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J Clin Epidemiol. 2001 Feb;54(2):136-41.

Self-reports of health care utilization compared to provider records.

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Stanford University School of Medicine, 1000 Welch Road, Suite 204, Palo Alto, CA 94304, USA.


This study compares self-reports of medical utilization with provider records. As part of a chronic disease self-management intervention study, patients completed self-reports of their last six months of health care utilization. A subgroup of patients was selected from the larger study and their self-reports of utilization were compared to computerized utilization records. Consistent with earlier studies, patients tended to report less physician utilization than was recorded in the computerized provider records. However, they also tended to report slightly more emergency room visits than were reported in the computerized utilization records. There was no association between demographic or health variables and the tendency toward discrepancy between self-report and computerized utilization record reports. However, there was a tendency for the discrepancy to increase as the amount of record utilization increased. Thus, the likelihood of bias caused by differing demographic factors is low, but researchers should take into account that underreporting occurs and is likely to increase as utilization increases.

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