The Physician Recommendation Coding System (PhyReCS): A Reliable and Valid Method to Quantify the Strength of Physician Recommendations During Clinical Encounters.

Journal Article (Journal Article)


Physicians' recommendations affect patients' treatment choices. However, most research relies on physicians' or patients' retrospective reports of recommendations, which offer a limited perspective and have limitations such as recall bias.


To develop a reliable and valid method to measure the strength of physician recommendations using direct observation of clinical encounters.


Clinical encounters (n = 257) were recorded as part of a larger study of prostate cancer decision making. We used an iterative process to create the 5-point Physician Recommendation Coding System (PhyReCS). To determine reliability, research assistants double-coded 50 transcripts. To establish content validity, we used 1-way analyses of variance to determine whether relative treatment recommendation scores differed as a function of which treatment patients received. To establish concurrent validity, we examined whether patients' perceived treatment recommendations matched our coded recommendations.


The PhyReCS was highly reliable (Krippendorf's alpha = 0.89, 95% CI [0.86, 0.91]). The average relative treatment recommendation score for each treatment was higher for individuals who received that particular treatment. For example, the average relative surgery recommendation score was higher for individuals who received surgery versus radiation (mean difference = 0.98, SE = 0.18, P < 0.001) or active surveillance (mean difference = 1.10, SE = 0.14, P < 0.001). Patients' perceived recommendations matched coded recommendations 81% of the time.


The PhyReCS is a reliable and valid way to capture the strength of physician recommendations. We believe that the PhyReCS would be helpful for other researchers who wish to study physician recommendations, an important part of patient decision making.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Scherr, KA; Fagerlin, A; Williamson, LD; Davis, JK; Fridman, I; Atyeo, N; Ubel, PA

Published Date

  • January 2017

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 37 / 1

Start / End Page

  • 46 - 55

PubMed ID

  • 27343015

Pubmed Central ID

  • 27343015

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1552-681X

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0272-989X

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1177/0272989x16654692


  • eng