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PLoS One. 2014 Apr 15;9(4):e95029. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0095029. eCollection 2014.

Risk adjustment for smoking identified through tobacco use diagnoses in hospital data: a validation study.

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1
Centre for Health Research, University of Western Sydney, Penrith, New South Wales, Australia.

Abstract

Adjustment for the differing risk profiles of patients is essential to the use of administrative hospital data for epidemiological research. Smoking is an important factor to include in such adjustments, but the accuracy of the diagnostic codes denoting smoking in hospital records is unknown. The aims of this study were to measure the validity of current smoking and ever smoked status identified from diagnoses in hospital records using a range of algorithms, relative to self-reported smoking status; and to examine whether the misclassification of smoking identified through hospital data is differential or non-differential with respect to common exposures and outcomes. Data from the baseline questionnaire of the 45 and Up Study, completed by 267,153 residents of New South Wales (NSW), Australia, aged 45 years and older, were linked to the NSW Admitted Patient Data Collection. Patients who had been admitted to hospital for an overnight stay between 1 July 2005 and the date of completion of the questionnaire (1 January 2006 to 2 March 2009) were included. Smokers were identified by applying a range of algorithms to hospital admission histories, and compared against self-reported smoking in the questionnaire ('gold standard'). Sensitivities for current smoking ranged from 59% to 84%, while specificities were 94% to 98%. Sensitivities for ever smoked ranged from 45% to 74% and specificities were 93% to 97%. For the majority of algorithms, sensitivities and/or specificities differed significantly according to principal diagnosis, number of comorbidities, socioeconomic status, residential remoteness, Indigenous status, 28 day readmission and 365 day mortality. The identification of smoking through diagnoses in hospital data results in differential misclassification. Risk adjustment based on smoking identified from these data will yield potentially misleading results. Systematic capture of information about smoking in hospital records using a mandatory item would increase the utility of administrative data for epidemiological research.

PMID:
24736621
PMCID:
PMC3988140
DOI:
10.1371/journal.pone.0095029
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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