The diabetes audit and research in Tayside Scotland (darts) study: electronic record linkage to create a diabetes registerBMJ 1997; 315 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.315.7107.524 (Published 30 August 1997) Cite this as: BMJ 1997;315:524
- Andrew D Morris, senior lecturera,
- Douglas IR Boyle, computer programmerb,
- Ritchie MacAlpine, research nurseb,
- Alistair Emslie-Smith, general practitionerc,
- Roland T Jung, consultant physiciand,
- Ray W Newton, consultant physiciand,
- a University Department of Medicine, Ninewells Hospital and Medical School, Dundee DD1 9SY
- b Medicines Monitoring Unit, Ninewells Hospital and Medical School, Dundee
- c Wallacetown Health Centre, Dundee DD4 6RD
- d Diabetes Centre, Ninewells Hospital and Medical School, Dundee
- Correspondence to: Andrew D Morris
- Accepted 19 June 1997
Objectives: To identify all patients with diabetes in a community using electronic record linkage of multiple data sources and to compare this method of case ascertainment with registers of diabetic patients derived from primary care.
Design: Electronic capture-recapture linkage of records included data on all patients attending hospital diabetes clinics, all encashed prescriptions for diabetes related drugs and monitoring equipment, all patients discharged from hospital, patients attending a mobile unit for eye screening, and results for glycated haemoglobin and plasma glucose concentrations from the regional biochemistry database. Diabetes registers from primary care were from a random sample of eight Tayside general practices. A detailed manual study of relevant records for the 35 144 patients registered with these eight general practices allowed for validation of the case ascertainment.
Setting: Tayside region of Scotland, population 391 274 on 1 January 1996.
Main outcome measures: Prevalence of diabetes; population of patients identified by different data sources; sensitivity and positive predictive value of ascertainment methods.
Results: Electronic record linkage identified 7596 diabetic patients, giving a prevalence of known diabetes of 1.94% (0.21% insulin dependent diabetes, 1.73% non-insulin dependent): 63% of patients had attended hospital diabetes clinics, 68% had encashed diabetes related prescriptions, 72% had attended the mobile eye screening unit, and 48% had biochemical results diagnostic of diabetes. A further 701 patients had isolated hyperglycaemia (plasma glucose >11.1 mmol/l) but were not considered diabetic by general practitioners. Validation against the eight general practices (636 diabetic patients) showed electronic linkage to have a sensitivity of 0.96 and a positive predictive value of 0.95 for ascertainment of known diabetes. General practice lists had a sensitivity of 0.91 and a positive predictive value of 0.98.
Conclusions: Electronic record linkage was more sensitive than general practice registers in identifying diabetic subjects and identified an additional 0.18% of the population with a history of hyperglycaemia who might warrant screening for undiagnosed diabetes.
It has been recommended that regional registers of patients with diabetes are established in order to facilitate effective monitoring and treatment of diabetes
In Tayside we created a diabetes register by record linkage of multiple data sources: all patients attending hospital diabetes clinics, all encashed prescriptions for diabetes related drugs and monitoring equipment, all patients discharged from hospital, patients attending a mobile unit for eye screening, and results for glycated haemoglobin and plasma glucose concentrations from the regional biochemistry database
This register identified 7596 patients with diabetes in Tayside, giving a prevalence of diabetes of 1.94%
Record linkage was more sensitive than general practice registers in ascertaining cases of known diabetes
A unique patient identifier, the community health number, was fundamental for successful record linkage
- Accepted 19 June 1997