A PhD student based at Swansea University Medical School has written a blog for Asthma UK Centre for Applied Research:

Researchers at Swansea University Medical School and the Asthma UK Centre for Applied Research found that the methods used to identify and assess asthma patients from electronic health records (EHR) are widely inconsistent and are insufficiently described.

There is a growing number of studies that use EHRs to study asthma, but no standard methods for identifying and assessing asthma patients from EHR exist.

In a systematic scoping review recently published in the European Respiratory Journal, Al Sallakh et al examined the methods used to define asthma, asthma severity, control and exacerbation from EHR in the recent literature.

They found wide variations and inconsistencies in these methods across studies. These variations reflect not only the differences in the data used, but also, a fundamental lack of consensus on the clinical definitions of asthma and its outcomes.

AUKCAR PhD student graffic









These variations were further compounded by suboptimal reporting. The majority of the reviewed studies provided no evidence to support the validity of algorithms.

Suboptimal reporting on implementation and validity of methods compromises transparency and reproducibility of research.

Given the substantial growth in asthma literature that uses EHR data, the authors emphasise the need for reaching scientific consensus on asthma clinical definitions and algorithms.

They also call for an increased adoption of the RECORD statement by the research community which aims to improve the reporting of studies conducted using routinely collected EHR data.

Link to the paper: http://erj.ersjournals.com/content/49/6/1700204 

Written by Mohammad Al Sallakh, PhD student based at Swansea University Medical School