Physical Health Conditions among a Population-Based Cohort of Vietnam-Era Women Veterans: Agreement between Self-Report and Medical Records

Amy M. Kilbourne, Karen Schumacher, Susan M. Frayne, Yasmin Cypel, Michelle M. Barbaresso, Kristina M. Nord, Juliette Perzhinsky, Zongshan Lai, Katherine Prenovost, Avron Spiro, Theresa C. Gleason, Rachel Kimerling, Grant D. Huang, Tracey B. Serpi, Kathryn M. Magruder

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Background: Little is known about medical morbidity among women Vietnam-era veterans, or the long-term physical health problems associated with their service. This study assessed agreement comparing data on physical health conditions from self-report and medical records from a population-based cohort of women Vietnam-era Veterans from the Health of Vietnam Era Women's Study (HealthViEWS). Materials and Methods: Women Vietnam-era veterans (n = 4219) self-completed a survey and interview on common medical conditions. A subsample (n = 900) were contacted to provide permission to obtain medical records from as many as three of their providers. Medical record reviews were conducted using a standardized checklist. Agreement and kappa (agreement beyond chance) were calculated for physical health condition groups. Results: Of the 900, 449 had medical records returned, and of those, 412 had complete surveys/interviews. The most commonly reported conditions based on self-report or medical record review included hypertension, hyperlipidemia, or arthritis. Kappa scores between self-reported conditions and medical record documentation were 0.75-0.91 for hypertension, diabetes, most cancers, and neurological conditions, but lower (k = 0.29-0.55) for cardiovascular diseases, musculoskeletal, and gastrointestinal conditions. Generally, agreement did not significantly vary by different sociodemographic groups. Conclusions: There was relatively high agreement for physical health conditions when self-report was compared with medical record review. As more women are increasingly represented in the military and more veterans in general seek care outside the Veterans Health Administration, accurate measurement of physical health conditions among population-based samples is crucial.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1244-1251
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Women's Health
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2017


  • Military health
  • epidemiology
  • medical records
  • quality of care
  • survey research
  • veterans


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