Congruence of Patient Self-Rating of Health with Family Physician Ratings

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A single self-rated health (SRH) question is associated with health outcomes, but agreement between SRH and physician-rated patient health (PRPH) has been poorly studied. We studied patient and physician reasoning for health ratings and the role played by patient lifestyle and objective health measures in the congruence between SRH and PRPH.


Surveys of established family medicine patients and their physicians, and medical record review at 4 offices. Patients and physicians rated patient health on a 5-point scale and gave reasons for the rating and suggestions for improving health. Patients' and physicians' reasons for ratings and improvement suggestions were coded into taxonomies developed from the data. Bivariate relationships between the variables and the difference between SRH and PRPH were examined and all single predictors of the difference were entered into a multivariable regression model.


Surveys were completed by 506 patients and 33 physicians. SRH and PRPH ratings matched exactly for 38% of the patient-physician dyads. Variables associated with SRH being lower than PRPH were higher patient body mass index (P= .01), seeing the physician previously (P= .04), older age, (P< .001), and a higher comorbidity score (P= .001). Only 25.7% of the dyad reasons for health status rating and 24.1% of needed improvements matched, and these matches were unrelated to SRH/PRPH agreement. Physicians focused on disease in their reasoning for most patients, whereas patients with excellent or very good SRH focused on feeling well.


Patients' and physicians' beliefs about patient health frequently lack agreement, confirming the need for shared decision making with patients.

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