"Tick Box diagnosis is a step backwards, I expected better"

About: Montagu Hospital / Ear, Nose and Throat

(as the patient),

I was concerned that I had a lump in my throat and had a camera x-ray carried out. Fortunately there was no sign of a growth and my condition was diagnosed as silent reflux.

When I arrived at the hospital, I was asked to fill in a questionnaire with no explanations as to what it was for. I had to grade my condition by answering several questions and ticking boxes 1-5 for each question.

I am not a doctor but tick box diagnosis is a step backwards, I expected better.

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Response from Doncaster and Bassetlaw Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

Sorry to hear you found this a step backwards and we hope that this response explains the reasons that we might ask patients these kinds of questions about their condition. It's really important that our doctors, nurses and other health professionals understand how an illness or condition affects that particular patient and impacts on their quality of life. Wherever we can, we also want to help patients assess the quality of care they're receiving and measure whether or not it's actually making a difference and helping them get better.

For many conditions, there are now standardised ways of doing this by asking patients to complete a self-assessment like the kind you mentioned. This enables the doctor/nurse to calculate scores that describe the impact the condition has on the patient's life before treatment begins and then at various stages through it. If scores are improving, then the treatment is having a positive impact. For some conditions, data like this is analysed at a national level - protecting individual patients' anonymity - and then used to measure the performance of a particular hospital or even an individual surgeon.

We hope that explains why you might have been asked to complete a questionnaire of this kind. It would be used in addition to diagnostic tests and the clinician examining you, rather than as a substitute for that, but it does provide useful additional insight into how much of a problem your condition is causing you.