Background: Record access is likely to become an integral part of routine care in the UK. While existing research suggests that record access improves self-care and improves relationships between patients and clinicians, little is known about how patients make use of their ability to access their records or the impact that this has on health behaviour.
Aim: To explore patients' use of access to their electronic GP record and the impact of that process on their health behaviour.
Method: Self-administered postal questionnaire mailed from three general practice surgeries to patients registered to use PAERS record access system. Data were analysed using SPSS. Content analysis was used to analyse free-text responses.
Results: Two hundred and thirty-one of 610 patients responded. Frequent users of Record Access were those in poor health. Record access was used to look at test results and to read letters from those involved in health care. Forty-two per cent reported a positive impact on following medication advice and 64% a positive impact on following lifestyle advice. Just over half the sample felt accessing records prior to appointments saved time and wanted to share records with other health care providers. Approximately a third reported difficulties with understanding their records.
Conclusions: Record access appears to have a number of positive outcomes and very few negative ones, although further work is needed to confirm this. It is used by patients to help practices improve efficiency and to improve compliance. It has the potential to promote and reinforce collaborative relationships between clinicians and patients.