Have you had a tetanus booster in the last 10 years? Sensitivity and specificity of the question

Philip T. Hagen, Allison R. Bond, Hamid Rehman, Robin G. Molella, M. Hassan Murad

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Objective: To evaluate the accuracy of patients' recall of their last Tetanus/Diphtheria (Td) booster in the setting of employee health clinics known for high immunization rates and good documentation of vaccine status. Methods: Five hundred and seventy-two patients of an employee health clinic answered a written questionnaire about whether they have had a Td booster in the last 10 years. Answers were compared with patients' charts as the gold standard. Results: The sensitivity of the question is 92.4% (95% CI 89.0-95.0) and specificity is 26.5% (95% CI 12.9-44.4). Positive predictive value is 92.6% (95% CI 89.3-95.2) and negative predictive value is 25.7% (95% CI 12.5-43.3). Age and gender do not affect the accuracy of recall. Conclusion: A positive answer to this question is highly reliable whereas a negative answer is unreliable. Practice implications: In the setting of employee health clinics, when patients affirm the receipt of a Td booster within the previous 10 years, it is quite likely that they are up to date and do not require re-administration of the vaccine. Any other answer to this question (No, I do not know) is unreliable and a booster should be recommended if not contraindicated.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)403-406
Number of pages4
JournalPatient Education and Counseling
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2008


  • Immunization
  • Patient recall
  • Sensitivity
  • Specificity
  • Tetanus vaccine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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