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01.12.2012 | Research article | Ausgabe 1/2012 Open Access

BMC Health Services Research 1/2012

Can colorectal cancer survivors recall their medications and doctor visits reliably?

BMC Health Services Research > Ausgabe 1/2012
Louisa G Gordon, Tania Patrao, Anna L Hawkes
Wichtige Hinweise

Electronic supplementary material

The online version of this article (doi:10.​1186/​1472-6963-12-440) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

Competing interests

None of the authors declare any competing interests.

Authors’ contributions

LG and AH conceived of the study, and participated in its design and coordination. TP participated in the dataset management and analyses. LG performed the statistical analyses and drafted the manuscript. TP, AH and LG have contributed to, read and approved the final manuscript.



The evidence on the agreement between self-reported health resource use and administrative records is mixed and no gold standard exists. The objective of this study was to assess self-reported general practitioner (GP) and specialist doctor visits, as well as medication use via telephone interview against national insurance administrative data for colorectal cancer survivors.


In a sample of 76 adults recently diagnosed with colorectal cancer, data was abstracted from telephone survey items on GP visits, specialist visits and medication use over the previous six months and compared with data on the same individuals from administrative data. Intraclass correlation coefficients (ICC) were used to assess the reliability of frequency of visits and kappa statistics were derived for four broad categories of medicines used for gastrointestinal conditions, cardiovascular disease, psychological conditions and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Logistic regression was undertaken to assess factors associated with agreement (yes/no) between the two data sources for doctors’ visits.


Good agreement was found for GP visits (ICC 0.62, 95%CI: 0.38, 0.86) and specialist visits (ICC 0.73, 95%CI: 0.56, 0.91) across the two data sources. When costs were assigned to frequencies, mean costs for the two methods were not significantly different over six months. Over-reporting was more common among men and participants with frequent doctor encounters. Large discrepancies between self-reports and administration records were found for broad types of medications used (44% agreement, kappa 0.13).


Self-reported frequency of doctor’s visits using telephone interviews may be a reasonable substitute for administratively recorded data however, medication use by self-report appears to be unreliable. Administrative records are preferable to self-report for health service use in colorectal cancer survivors with high and complex service needs.
Additional file 1: CanChange Questionnaire - Time 1.(PDF 220 KB)
Authors’ original file for figure 1
Authors’ original file for figure 2
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