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J Am Med Inform Assoc. 2009 May-Jun;16(3):362-70. doi: 10.1197/jamia.M2777. Epub 2009 Mar 4.

Comparison of information content of structured and narrative text data sources on the example of medication intensification.

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Clinical Informatics Research and Development, Suite 201, 93 Worcester St, Wellesley, MA 02481, USA.


OBJECTIVE To compare information obtained from narrative and structured electronic sources using anti-hypertensive medication intensification as an example clinical issue of interest. DESIGN A retrospective cohort study of 5,634 hypertensive patients with diabetes from 2000 to 2005. MEASUREMENTS The authors determined the fraction of medication intensification events documented in both narrative and structured data in the electronic medical record. The authors analyzed the relationship between provider characteristics and concordance between intensifications in narrative and structured data. As there is no gold standard data source for medication information, the authors clinically validated medication intensification information by assessing the relationship between documented medication intensification and the patients' blood pressure in univariate and multivariate models. RESULTS Overall, 5,627 (30.9%) of 18,185 medication intensification events were documented in both sources. For a medication intensification event documented in narrative notes the probability of a concordant entry in structured records increased by 11% for each study year (p < 0.0001) and decreased by 19% for each decade of provider age (p = 0.035). In a multivariate model that adjusted for patient demographics and intraphysician correlations, an increase of one medication intensification per month documented in either narrative or structured data were associated with a 5-8 mm Hg monthly decrease in systolic and 1.5-4 mm Hg decrease in diastolic blood pressure (p < 0.0001 for all). CONCLUSION Narrative and structured electronic data sources provide complementary information on anti-hypertensive medication intensification. Clinical validity of information in both sources was demonstrated by correlation with changes in blood pressure.

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