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Cancer Patients Benefit From Full Access to Medical Records

MONDAY, May 23 (HealthDay News) -- Cancer patients who are given full access to their medical records feel a greater sense of satisfaction about their treatment, a new study finds.

The French researchers also found that providing comprehensive and accurate medical information built trust between patient and doctor.

Published online May 23 in the journal Cancer, the study analyzed 295 patients recently diagnosed with lymphoma, breast or colon cancer. All were being treated with chemotherapy.

The patients received either "on request information" or an organized medical record (OMR) -- a briefcase full of detailed information about their condition and treatment. That information included reports on everything from surgery to radiology and pathology results, along with nurse narratives and treatment observations. Along with the OMR, they were given guides on medical terms and how to understand the material, as well as help from medical staff to decipher the various documents.

Ninety-eight percent of the patients who were offered an OMR chose to take it.

Patients who received on-request information were only provided with information and medical records if they asked for them or their doctor offered them.

Similar anxiety levels and quality-of-life scores were reported in the two groups.

But, patients with OMRs were 1.68 times more likely to be satisfied with their medical information and were 1.86 times more likely to feel fully informed, the study authors noted.

And 70.4 percent of the patients who received an OMR said they would choose again to receive it, with 74.8 percent saying they did not regret their choice. Moreover, the majority of those patients reported that the OMR had not been the source of any anxiety.

"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," study author Dr. Gwenaelle Gravis, of the Paoli-Calmettes Institute in Marseille, said in a news release from the journal's publisher. "Having full access to his own medical record with the possibility to consult it only if desired increases the patient's trust in the physician and medical team."

More information

The American Cancer Society provides insight on how to cope with cancer in everyday life.

-- Mary Elizabeth Dallas

SOURCE: Cancer, news release, May 23, 2011

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