Background Asthma is a common, heterogeneous disease with significant morbidity and mortality worldwide. It can be difficult to define in epidemiological studies using electronic health records as the diagnosis is based on non-specific respiratory symptoms and spirometry, neither of which are routinely registered. Electronic health records can nonetheless be valuable to study the epidemiology, management, healthcare use and control of asthma. For health databases to be useful sources of information, asthma diagnoses should ideally be validated. The primary objectives are to provide an overview of the methods used to validate asthma diagnoses in electronic health records and summarise the results of the validation studies.
Methods EMBASE and MEDLINE will be systematically searched for appropriate search terms. The searches will cover all studies in these databases up to October 2016 with no start date and will yield studies that have validated algorithms or codes for the diagnosis of asthma in electronic health records. At least one test validation measure (sensitivity, specificity, positive predictive value, negative predictive value or other) is necessary for inclusion. In addition, we require the validated algorithms to be compared with an external golden standard, such as a manual review, a questionnaire or an independent second database. We will summarise key data including author, year of publication, country, time period, date, data source, population, case characteristics, clinical events, algorithms, gold standard and validation statistics in a uniform table.
Ethics and dissemination This study is a synthesis of previously published studies and, therefore, no ethical approval is required. The results will be submitted to a peer-reviewed journal for publication. Results from this systematic review can be used to study outcome research on asthma and can be used to identify case definitions for asthma.
PROSPERO registration number CRD42016041798.
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