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J Prof Nurs. 1993 Jul-Aug;9(4):204-11.

Using large data bases in nursing and health policy research.

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Nursing Informatics Program, University of Utah, Salt Lake City 84103.


Concern about the quality, cost, and outcomes of health care has become a driving force in health policy research. The growing accessibility of large clinical and administrative health care data bases has led to an interest in using such data in health policy research. Clinical data bases are created by providers of care and contain data about episodes and outcomes of care, usually organized as patient records. Administrative data bases contain data about indirect care processes such as insurance claims processing, vital event recording, and quality assurance. Clinical and administrative data bases may contain millions of records, consist of data from multiple sites, and often have missing data issues that must be considered by researchers. These and other characteristics of large data bases require special data manipulation and analytic techniques. Large data bases have been used in epidemiological studies, risk assessment, and technology assessment and to study variations in caregiver practice patterns. Because the use of large data bases by nurse researchers has been constrained by the lack of nursing-relevant data in them, there is a need to reach consensus on useful and feasible nursing data elements and to include those data in ongoing data collection efforts by government agencies and private organizations.

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