Self-report versus medical record functional status

Risa B. Burns, Mark A. Moskowitz, Arlene Ash, Robert L Kane, Michael D. Finch, Sharon M. Bak

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


The importance of assessing functional status in the hospitalized patient is gaining recognition. However, the availability and accuracy of medical record functional status data are uncertain. We collected data on 2,504 patients > 65 years of age discharged alive. A personal interview conducted 2 days before discharge recorded the patient’s self-reported ability to perform 5 activities of daily living scales. Medical record abstraction was used independently to determine ability to perform the same activities of daily living scales. Patients who required any human assistance to perform a function were considered dependent. Patients were also contacted after discharge to determine the site of posthospital care (28% discharged to a nursing home). The amount of missing medical record functional status data varied by function from 20% for bathing to 50% for dressing. Ten percent of patients had no medical record functional status documentation concerning any of the five functions. The prevalence of self-reported dependence at discharge varied by function from 24% for feeding to 93% for bathing. The total number of dependencies differed between the two methods (medical records, 2.3 ± 1.9; self-report data, 3.2 ± 1.5). There was exact agreement between the two methods on the total number of dependencies in 28% of cases and differences of ≥3 in 20%. In a stepwise logistic model predicting discharge to a nursing home and adjusting for other relevant variables, the number of dependencies as determined by self-report and medical record data each remained significant (Odds Ratios = 1.6). Self-report and medical record functional status data differ substantially, and the medical record data remain independently associated with nursing home placement. Several possible explanations for this finding are explored.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)MS85-MS95
JournalMedical care
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1992


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