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Development and validation of QDiabetes-2018 risk prediction algorithm to estimate future risk of type 2 diabetes: cohort study

BMJ 2017; 359 doi: (Published 20 November 2017) Cite this as: BMJ 2017;359:j5019
  1. Julia Hippisley-Cox, professor of clinical epidemiology and general practice1 2,
  2. Carol Coupland, professor of medical statistics in primary care1
  1. 1Division of Primary Care, University of Nottingham, Nottingham NG2 7RD, UK
  2. 2ClinRisk, Leeds, West Yorkshire, UK
  1. Correspondence to: J Hippisley-Cox Julia.hippisley-cox{at}
  • Accepted 16 October 2017


Objectives To derive and validate updated QDiabetes-2018 prediction algorithms to estimate the 10 year risk of type 2 diabetes in men and women, taking account of potential new risk factors, and to compare their performance with current approaches.

Design Prospective open cohort study.

Setting Routinely collected data from 1457 general practices in England contributing to the QResearch database: 1094 were used to develop the scores and a separate set of 363 were used to validate the scores.

Participants 11.5 million people aged 25-84 and free of diabetes at baseline: 8.87 million in the derivation cohort and 2.63 million in the validation cohort.

Methods Cox proportional hazards models were used in the derivation cohort to derive separate risk equations in men and women for evaluation at 10 years. Risk factors considered included those already in QDiabetes (age, ethnicity, deprivation, body mass index, smoking, family history of diabetes in a first degree relative, cardiovascular disease, treated hypertension, and regular use of corticosteroids) and new risk factors: atypical antipsychotics, statins, schizophrenia or bipolar affective disorder, learning disability, gestational diabetes, and polycystic ovary syndrome. Additional models included fasting blood glucose and glycated haemoglobin (HBA1c). Measures of calibration and discrimination were determined in the validation cohort for men and women separately and for individual subgroups by age group, ethnicity, and baseline disease status.

Main outcome measure Incident type 2 diabetes recorded on the general practice record.

Results In the derivation cohort, 178 314 incident cases of type 2 diabetes were identified during follow-up arising from 42.72 million person years of observation. In the validation cohort, 62 326 incident cases of type 2 diabetes were identified from 14.32 million person years of observation. All new risk factors considered met our model inclusion criteria. Model A included age, ethnicity, deprivation, body mass index, smoking, family history of diabetes in a first degree relative, cardiovascular disease, treated hypertension, and regular use of corticosteroids, and new risk factors: atypical antipsychotics, statins, schizophrenia or bipolar affective disorder, learning disability, and gestational diabetes and polycystic ovary syndrome in women. Model B included the same variables as model A plus fasting blood glucose. Model C included HBA1c instead of fasting blood glucose. All three models had good calibration and high levels of explained variation and discrimination. In women, model B explained 63.3% of the variation in time to diagnosis of type 2 diabetes (R2), the D statistic was 2.69 and the Harrell’s C statistic value was 0.89. The corresponding values for men were 58.4%, 2.42, and 0.87. Model B also had the highest sensitivity compared with current recommended practice in the National Health Service based on bands of either fasting blood glucose or HBA1c. However, only 16% of patients had complete data for blood glucose measurements, smoking, and body mass index.

Conclusions Three updated QDiabetes risk models to quantify the absolute risk of type 2 diabetes were developed and validated: model A does not require a blood test and can be used to identify patients for fasting blood glucose (model B) or HBA1c (model C) testing. Model B had the best performance for predicting 10 year risk of type 2 diabetes to identify those who need interventions and more intensive follow-up, improving on current approaches. Additional external validation of models B and C in datasets with more completely collected data on blood glucose would be valuable before the models are used in clinical practice.


  • A simple web calculator ( can be used to implement the QDiabetes-2018 algorithm. The website also has the open source software for download.

    We acknowledge the contribution of EMIS practices who contribute to QResearch, and EMIS Health and the University of Nottingham for expertise in establishing, developing, and supporting the QResearch database. The authors acknowledge the financial infrastructure support from the National Institute for Health Research Nottingham Biomedical Research Centre.

  • Contributors: JHC initiated the study, developed the research question, undertook the literature review, data extraction, data manipulation, and primary data analysis, and wrote the first draft of the paper. CC contributed to the refinement of the research question, design, analysis, interpretation, and drafting of the paper.

  • Funding: There was no external funding for this project.

  • Competing interests: All authors have completed the ICJME uniform disclosure form at (available on request from the corresponding author) and declare: JHC is professor of clinical epidemiology at the University of Nottingham and co-director of QResearch—a not-for-profit organisation, which is a joint partnership between the University of Nottingham and EMIS Health (leading commercial supplier of IT for 55% of general practices in the UK). JHC is also a paid director of ClinRisk, which produces open and closed source software to ensure the reliable and updatable implementation of clinical risk equations within clinical computer systems to help improve patient care. CC is professor of medical statistics in primary care at the University of Nottingham and a paid consultant statistician for ClinRisk. This work and any views expressed within it are solely those of the authors and not of any affiliated bodies or organisations.

  • Ethical approval: Ethical approval for QResearch is with East Midlands-Derby Research Ethics Committee (reference 03/4/021).

  • Data sharing: The equations presented in this paper will be released as Open Source Software under the GNU lesser GPL v3. The open source software allows use without charge under the terms of the GNU lesser public license version 3. Closed source software can be licensed at a fee.

  • Transparency: The lead author (JHC) affirms that the manuscript is an honest, accurate, and transparent account of the study being reported; that no important aspects of the study have been omitted; and that any discrepancies from the study as planned (and, if relevant, registered) have been explained.

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