Self-Reported Cancer Screening Rates Versus Medical Record Documentation: Incongruence, Specificity, and Sensitivity for African American Women

Barbara D. Powe

Dexter L. Cooper

self-report, African American, women, cancer screening
ONF 2008, 35(2), 199-204. DOI: 10.1188/08.ONF.199-204

Purpose/Objectives: To evaluate levels of incongruence, specificity, and sensitivity between self-reported screening and medical record documentation for breast, cervical, and colorectal cancer screening.

Design: Descriptive, quantitative.

Setting: Federally qualified health centers in the southeastern United States.

Sample: 116 African American women. The mean age was 35 years, and the mean educational level was 12.6 years.

Methods: Women were eligible to participate in the study if they were older than age 18 and able to understand English or Spanish. They were recruited from the waiting areas of health centers over a consecutive five-day period.

Main Research Variables: Self-reported rates of screening and screening rates documented in the medical record.

Findings: The level of incongruence between self-report and medical record documentation was more than 50% for some procedures. Rates of specificity were high, particularly over time. Rates of sensitivity were 33% or less.

Conclusions: The women tended to overreport screenings in the past year when compared to medical records. The women and medical records indicated that the screenings had not been performed in the past two to five years or more than five years ago. Implications for Nursing: Nurses are in a unique position to educate women about cancer screening in a culturally and educationally appropriate way while ensuring that those conversations and procedures are documented in the medical record by all providers.

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