Healthcare research: Access to records increases cancer patient satisfaction

23rd May 2011

Allowing newly-diagnosed cancer patients access to their personal medical records can help to increase satisfaction without increasing anxiety, new healthcare research has shown.

A study at the Paoli-Calmettes Institute in France showed that giving patients the chance to see their records acted as a beneficial complement to verbal communication with physicians, as many patients said it helped them to understand their illness more thoroughly.

Researchers at the institute tried two methods of the practice, by allowing some people full access to information in an organised medical record and supplying others with information only when they asked for it.

They found that almost all of the patients who had the opportunity to access a full record did so and that they were more likely to be satisfied and feel fully informed than those in the on demand group. However, scores for anxiety and quality of life were improved in both groups.

Dr Gwenaelle Gravis said: "Information is crucial to make decisions regarding treatment options and, for the patient and his family to better cope with the disease and its implications."

In the UK people can informally request for GPs to show them their medical records, or they can apply to see them through the Data Protection Act.

Posted by Philip Briggs

Gravis, Gwenaelle et al. "Full access to medical records does not modify anxiety in cancer patients - results of a randomized study." Cancer. 23rd May 2011.

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