Canadian Journal of Public Health

, Volume 107, Issue 1, pp e56–e61 | Cite as

Quality of administrative health databases in Canada: A scoping review

  • Aynslie Hinds
  • Lisa M. LixEmail author
  • Mark Smith
  • Hude Quan
  • Claudia Sanmartin
Systematic Review


OBJECTIVE: Administrative health databases are increasingly used to conduct population-based health research and surveillance; this has resulted in a corresponding growth in studies about their quality. Our objective was to describe the characteristics of published Canadian studies about administrative health database quality.

METHODS: PubMed, Scopus, and Google Advanced were searched, along with websites of relevant organizations. English-language studies that evaluated the quality of one or more Canadian administrative health databases between 2004 and 2014 were selected for inclusion. Extracted information included data quality concepts and measures, year and type of publication, type of database, and geographic origin.

SYNTHESIS: More than 3,000 publications were identified fromthe search. Twelve reports and 144 peer-reviewed papers were included. The majority (53.5%) of peer-review publications used databases from Ontario and Alberta, while 67% of the non-peer-review publications used data from multiple provinces/territories. Almost all peer-reviewed papers (97.2%) were validation studies. Hospital discharge abstracts and physician billing claims were the most frequently validated databases. Approximately half of the publications (53.0%) validated case definitions and 37.7% focused on a chronic physical health condition.

CONCLUSION: Gaps in the Canadian administrative data quality literature include a limited number of studies evaluating data from the Maritimes and across multiple jurisdictions, newer data sources, validating methods for identifying individuals with mental illness, and assessing the completeness and serviceability of the data. Data quality studies can aid researchers to understand the strengths and limitations of the data.

Key Words

Data linkage administrative health database diagnosis codes validation studies review study 


OBJECTIF: On utilise de plus en plus les bases de données administratives sur la santé dans la recherche et la surveillance populationnelles en santé; le nombre d’études sur la qualité de ces bases de données croît lui aussi. Nous avons cherché à décrire les caractéristiques des études canadiennes publiées portant sur la qualité des bases de données administratives sur la santé.

MÉTHODE: Nous avons interrogé PubMed, Scopus et Google Advanced, ainsi que les sites Web d’organismes pertinents. Nous avons inclus les études en anglais évaluant la qualité d’une ou de plusieurs bases de données administratives canadiennes sur la santé entre 2004 et 2014. Nous en avons extrait: les concepts et les indicateurs de la qualité des données; l’année et le type de publication; le type de base de données; et l’origine géographique.

SYNTHÈSE: La recherche a permis de répertorier plus de 3 000 publications. Douze rapports et 144 communications évaluées par des pairs ont été inclus. La majorité (53,5 %) des publications à comité de lecture utilisaient des bases de données de l’Ontario et de l’Alberta, tandis que 67 % des publications sans comité de lecture utilisaient des données de plusieurs provinces ou territoires. Presque toutes les communications évaluées par des pairs (97,2 %) étaient des études de validation. Les registres des sorties des hôpitaux et les demandes de paiement des médecins étaient les bases de données les plus fréquemment validées. Environ la moitié des publications (53,0 %) validaient des définitions de cas et 37,7 % portaient sur un problème de santé physique chronique.

CONCLUSION: La documentation sur la qualité des données administratives canadiennes comporte des lacunes, car un nombre limité d’études évaluent les données des provinces maritimes ou de plusieurs provinces ou territoires; évaluent les nouvelles sources de données; valident les méthodes d’identification des personnes atteintes de maladies mentales; et évaluent l’exhaustivité et la fonctionnalité des données. Les études sur la qualité des données peuvent aider les chercheurs à comprendre les forces et les contraintes des données.

Mots Clés

maillage de données base de données administratives sur la santé codes de diagnostic études de validation étude de synthèse 


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Copyright information

© The Canadian Public Health Association 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Aynslie Hinds
    • 1
  • Lisa M. Lix
    • 1
    Email author
  • Mark Smith
    • 2
  • Hude Quan
    • 3
  • Claudia Sanmartin
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of Community Health SciencesUniversity of ManitobaWinnipegCanada
  2. 2.Manitoba Centre for Health PolicyUniversity of ManitobaWinnipegCanada
  3. 3.Department of Community Health SciencesUniversity of CalgaryCalgaryCanada
  4. 4.StatsCanHealth Analysis DivisionOttawaCanada

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