There are difficulties in clinical assessment of patients’ health, and there is a need for evaluating instruments that measures self-rated health over time and that are based on the patient’s own experiences of their health situation.
To describe the trajectory of self-rated health given in a retrospective health-line and its correspondence with the ratings of health given at six different time points during 2 years following a first breast cancer surgery.
An explorative prospective cohort study presented according to the STROBE guideline. At six time points, 459 women (26-63 years) completed assessments of self-rated health during 2 years following a first breast cancer surgery. Subsequently, the women retrospectively rated health month by month over the two years by means of a health-line. The women were included consecutively in 2007-2009, last data collection was performed in 2012. Statistical analyses were used to compare the health-line with previous ratings.
Most women (74-88%) rated their health as good, very good or excellent at all six time points. Health-line ratings were somewhat lower than the ratings made at the actual time-point; however, the illustrated trajectories back in time followed the same patterns as the women had reported during the two years. The lowest ratings of self-rated health were reported at four months after surgery. The retrospective illustrations varied greatly, and poorer health was reported by women undergoing chemotherapy, with lower education and who reported more life events.
Even if the retrospective ratings by the health-line were somewhat lower than the ratings at the actual time-point, the health-line captures the health trajectory. The individual graphic illustration by means of a health-line may serve as a basis for assessment and support patient health narratives. The findings indicate that life event, lower education and chemotherapy influence concurrent and retrospective self-assessment of health.

© 2020 The Authors. Scandinavian Journal of Caring Sciences published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of Nordic College of Caring Science.