Using self-reports or claims to assess disease prevalence: It's complicated.

TitleUsing self-reports or claims to assess disease prevalence: It's complicated.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2017
AuthorsSt Clair, PA, Gaudette, É, Zhao, H, Tysinger, B, Seyedin, R, Goldman, DP
JournalMedical Care
ISSN Number1537-1948
KeywordsMedicare linkage, Medicare/Medicaid/Health Insurance, Survey Methodology

BACKGROUND: Two common ways of measuring disease prevalence include (1) using self-reported disease diagnosis from survey responses; (2) using disease-specific diagnosis codes found in administrative data. Because they do not suffer from self-report biases, claims are often assumed to be more objective. However, it is not clear that claims always produce better prevalence estimates.

OBJECTIVE: Conduct an assessment of discrepancies between self-report and claims-based measures for 2 diseases in the US elderly to investigate definition, selection, and measurement error issues which may help explain divergence between claims and self-report estimates of prevalence.

DATA: Self-reported data from 3 sources are included: the Health and Retirement Study, the Medicare Current Beneficiary Survey, and the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Claims-based disease measurements are provided from Medicare claims linked to Health and Retirement Study and Medicare Current Beneficiary Survey participants, comprehensive claims data from a 20% random sample of Medicare enrollees, and private health insurance claims from Humana Inc.

METHODS: Prevalence of diagnosed disease in the US elderly are computed and compared across sources. Two medical conditions are considered: diabetes and heart attack.

RESULTS: Comparisons of diagnosed diabetes and heart attack prevalence show similar trends by source, but claims differ from self-reports with regard to levels. Selection into insurance plans, disease definitions, and the reference period used by algorithms are identified as sources contributing to differences.

CONCLUSIONS: Claims and self-reports both have strengths and weaknesses, which researchers need to consider when interpreting estimates of prevalence from these 2 sources.

User Guide Notes

Alternate JournalMed Care
Citation Key9155
PubMed ID28617703
PubMed Central IDPMC5507726
Grant ListP30 AG024968 / AG / NIA NIH HHS / United States
P30 AG043073 / AG / NIA NIH HHS / United States