Comparing self-reported and physician-reported medical history

Am J Epidemiol. 1994 Apr 15;139(8):813-8. doi: 10.1093/oxfordjournals.aje.a117078.


The authors compared self-reported medical history and medication use in a cataract case-control study of 1,380 persons (1985-1989) in Boston, Massachusetts, with information from the participants' physicians. Under- and overreporting varied by condition and type of medication. A self-reported history of hypertension had the highest sensitivity (91%), and diabetes history had the highest specificity (97%). Among different medications investigated, self-reported antihypertensive medication use was the most sensitive (88%), while self-reported use of insulin was the most specific (99%). Differences between patient- and physician-reported frequencies were very small, except for arthritis (15%) and regular aspirin use (21%). Results suggest an accurate recall of medical and drug usage history in well-defined chronic conditions.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Bias
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cataract / complications
  • Cataract / drug therapy
  • Cataract / epidemiology
  • Chronic Disease
  • Epidemiologic Methods*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Medical History Taking / standards*
  • Middle Aged
  • Prevalence
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Surveys and Questionnaires / standards*