HealthDay News — Patients find note reading important for their health management and are rarely troubled by what they read, according to a study published in the May issue of the Journal of Medical Internet Research.

Jan Walker, R.N., from the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, and colleagues examined ongoing experiences and perceptions of patients who read ambulatory notes written by doctors, nurses, and other clinicians. A total of 29,656 patients responded to the survey.

The researchers found that of the 22,947 patients who reported reading one or more notes, three-quarters and half reported reading them for one year or longer and reading at least four notes, respectively; 37.74 percent shared a note with someone else. Note reading was rated as very important for taking care of their health (72.62 percent), feeling in control of their care (69.85 percent), and remembering the care plan (65.82 percent). After reading the notes, few patients were very confused or more worried (3.3 and 4.83 percent, respectively). About one-third of patients reported being encouraged to read notes by their clinician. Those most likely to report major benefits from reading notes were less educated, nonwhite, older, and Hispanic patients and those who usually did not speak English at home.

“More needs to be learned about using open notes as a tool for communication and promoting interaction between patients and clinicians across health care venues and populations,” the authors write.

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