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Open Access Research article

A comparison of patients' perceptions and an audit of health promotion practice within a UK hospital

Charlotte L Haynes* and Gary A Cook

Author Affiliations

Epidemiology, Stockport NHS Foundation Trust, Stepping Hill Hospital, Stockport SK2 7JE, UK

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BMC Public Health 2007, 7:242  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-7-242

Published: 13 September 2007



UK hospitals are required to monitor the health promotion services they provide for patients. We compared the use of audit and patient questionnaires as appropriate tools for monitoring whether patients are screened for modifiable risk factors (smoking, alcohol use, obesity, diet, and physical activity), whether staff correctly identify risk factor presence and deliver health promotion when a risk factor is identified.


We sent a questionnaire post-discharge to 322 hospitalised adult patients discharged alive between January and March 2006, and audited their hospital case notes for evidence of screening for risk factors, identification of risk factors, and delivery of health promotion to change risk factors. Agreement between the audit and questionnaire findings was assessed by Kappa statistic.


There was little relationship between what was written in the case notes and what patients thought had happened. Agreement between the audit and questionnaire for screening of risk factors was at best fair. For the delivery of health promotion agreement was moderate for alcohol, poor for exercise, and no different from chance for smoking and diet. Agreement on identifying risk factors was very good for obesity, good for smoking, and moderate for alcohol misuse. The identification of diet quality and level of physical activity was too low in the audit to allow statistical comparison with self-reported diet and activity.


A direct comparison of data gathered in the audit and patient questionnaires provides a comprehensive picture of health promotion practice within hospitals. Poor screening agreement is likely to be due to errors in patients' recall of screening activities. Audit is therefore the preferred method for evaluating screening of risk factors, but further insight into screening practice can be gained by using the questionnaire in conjunction with audit. If a patient does not recognise that they received health promotion, then this is tantamount to not receiving it, we therefore recommend that the patient questionnaire is the preferred method for monitoring health promotion delivered. For monitoring the accuracy of risk factor identification either method is appropriate as long as the hospital uses validated screening tools for identifying alcohol misuse, diet, and physical activity.