Full access to medical records does not modify anxiety in cancer patients: results of a randomized study

Cancer. 2011 Oct 15;117(20):4796-804. doi: 10.1002/cncr.26083. Epub 2011 May 23.


Background: Information is crucial for increasing the patients' empowerment and autonomy in relevant decision-making processes, especially in malignant diseases. However, the extent to which information should be delivered is debated. The objective of this study was to assess the impact of providing systematic full access (SFA) to the medical record on anxiety, quality of life, and satisfaction.

Methods: Patients with newly diagnosed breast cancer, colon cancer, or lymphoma who had received adjuvant chemotherapy in an outpatient setting were included in a randomized controlled trial comparing those who requested access (RA) and those who provided SFA to the medical record. Anxiety was assessed using the Spielberger State-Trait Anxiety Inventory before, during, and at the end of treatment. Quality of life was evaluated using the European Organization for Research and Cancer quality-of-life questionnaire (EORTC QLQ-C30) before and at the end of treatment. Patients' satisfaction and perception of the organized medical record (OMR) were evaluated using a specifically designed questionnaire at the end of treatment.

Results: Most patients (98%) who had the opportunity to obtain the OMR chose to do so. Anxiety levels did not increase in the SFA arm, although they did not differ significantly compared with anxiety levels in the RA arm. The patients who had full access to their medical record were more satisfied with information (odds ratio, 1.68; 95% confidence interval, 0.98-2.9) and felt sufficiently informed more often (odds ratio, 1.86; 95% confidence interval, 1.08-3.19), but the differences were not statistically significant at the 5% level.

Conclusions: Allowing full access to personal medical records increased satisfaction without increasing anxiety in patients with newly diagnosed cancer.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Access to Information*
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Anxiety / prevention & control*
  • Breast Neoplasms / psychology
  • Colonic Neoplasms / psychology
  • Decision Making
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lymphoma / psychology
  • Male
  • Medical Records*
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Neoplasms / psychology*
  • Patient Satisfaction / statistics & numerical data*
  • Personal Autonomy
  • Quality of Life
  • Surveys and Questionnaires