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Drug Intell Clin Pharm. 1988 Feb;22(2):157-61.

Record linkage studies for postmarketing drug surveillance: data quality and validity considerations.

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Center for Health Studies, Group Health Cooperative of Puget Sound, Seattle, WA 98121.


Large automated databases are the source of information for many record linkage studies, including postmarketing drug surveillance. Despite this reliance on prerecorded data, there have been few attempts to assess data quality and validity. This article presents some of the basic data quality and validity issues in applying record linkage methods to postmarketing surveillance. Studies based on prerecorded data, as in most record linkage studies, have all the inherent problems of the data from which they are derived. Sources of threats to the validity of record linkage studies include the completeness of data, the ability to accurately identify and follow the records of individuals through time and place, and the validity of data. This article also describes techniques for evaluating data quality and validity. Postmarketing surveillance could benefit from more attention to identifying and solving the problems associated with record linkage studies.

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