Methodology| Volume 23, ISSUE 11, P802-808, November 2017

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Accuracy of Self-Reported Heart Failure. The Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) Study

Published:September 08, 2017DOI:


      • Sensitivity of self-reported HF was low.
      • Specificity of self-reported HF was high.
      • Agreement of self-reported HF with physician-diagnosed HF was poor.
      • Self-reports of HF are best confirmed by means of diagnostic tests or medical records.
      • There is a need of improved awareness and understanding of HF by patients.



      The aim of this work was to estimate agreement of self-reported heart failure (HF) with physician-diagnosed HF and compare the prevalence of HF according to method of ascertainment.

      Methods and Results

      ARIC cohort members (60–83 years of age) were asked annually whether a physician indicated that they have HF. For those self-reporting HF, physicians were asked to confirm their patients' HF status. Physician-diagnosed HF included surveillance of hospitalized HF and hospitalized and outpatient HF identified in administrative claims databases. We estimated sensitivity, specificity, positive predicted value, kappa, prevalence and bias–adjusted kappa (PABAK), and prevalence. Compared with physician-diagnosed HF, sensitivity of self-report was low (28%–38%) and specificity was high (96%–97%). Agreement was poor (kappa 0.32–0.39) and increased when adjusted for prevalence and bias (PABAK 0.73–0.83). Prevalence of HF measured by self-report (9.0%), ARIC-classified hospitalizations (11.2%), and administrative hospitalization claims (12.7%) were similar. When outpatient HF claims were included, prevalence of HF increased to 18.6%.


      For accurate estimates HF burden, self-reports of HF are best confirmed by means of appropriate diagnostic tests or medical records. Our results highlight the need for improved awareness and understanding of HF by patients, because accurate patient awareness of the diagnosis may enhance management of this common condition.

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