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BMJ. Dec 3, 1994; 309(6967): 1483–1485.
PMCID: PMC2541640

Comparison of patient questionnaire, medical record, and audio tape in assessment of health promotion in general practice consultations.


OBJECTIVE--To determine what proportion of health promotion activities reported by the patient is recorded in the general practice notes and to compare these methods of assessing health promotion with audio tape analysis. DESIGN--Secondary analysis of data obtained in a controlled trial of differing appointment lengths. After each consultation the medical record was examined and the patient invited to completed a questionnaire. A subsample of consultations was audio taped. SETTING--Nottinghamshire. SUBJECTS--16 general practitioners from 10 practices. This report includes 3324 consultations with patients aged > or = 17, with data on measurement of blood pressure and advice about smoking and alcohol. RESULTS--Data from questionnaire and medical notes were available for 2281 consultations. Advice on smoking was recorded in the notes in 30.9% of cases in which a patient reported it (for alcohol and measurement of blood pressure, 44.4% and 82.7% of cases respectively). In 516 cases analysis of audio tape and review of records was performed. Advice on smoking was recorded in the patient's notes in 28.6% of cases in which it was detected on audio tape (for alcohol, 31.1% of cases). In 335 consultations data from audio tape and questionnaire were available. Advice on smoking was reported by patients in 73.9% of cases in which it was detected on audio tape (for alcohol, 75.0% of cases). CONCLUSIONS--Review of the medical record is a reasonably accurate method of assessing measurement of blood pressure in the consultation but would lead to significant underestimation of advice about smoking and alcohol.

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