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Use of Primary Care Electronic Medical Record Database in Drug Efficacy Research on Cardiovascular Outcomes: Comparison of Database and Randomised Controlled Trial Findings

Richard L. Tannen, Mark G. Weiner and Dawei Xie
BMJ: British Medical Journal
Vol. 338, No. 7691 (Feb. 14, 2009), pp. 395-399
Published by: BMJ
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/20512072
Page Count: 5
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Use of Primary Care Electronic Medical Record Database in Drug Efficacy Research on Cardiovascular Outcomes: Comparison of Database and Randomised Controlled Trial Findings
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Abstract

Objectives: To determine whether observational studies that use an electronic medical record database can provide valid results of therapeutic effectiveness and to develop new methods to enhance validity. Design: Data from the UK general practice research database (GPRD) were used to replicate previously performed randomised controlled trials, to the extent that was feasible aside from randomisation. Studies: Six published randomised controlled trials. Main outcome measure: Cardiovascular outcomes measured with hazard ratios calculated with standard biostatistical methods and a new analytical technique, prior event rate ratio (PERR) adjustment. Results: In nine of 17 outcome comparisons, there were no significant differences between results of randomised controlled trials and database studies analysed using standard biostatistical methods or PERR analysis. In eight comparisons, Cox adjusted hazard ratios in the database differed significantly from the results of the randomised controlled trials, suggesting unmeasured confounding. In seven of these eight, PERR adjusted hazard ratios differed significantly from Cox adjusted hazard ratios, whereas in five they didn't differ significantly, and in three were more similar to the hazard ratio from the randomised controlled trial, yielding PERR results more similar to the randomised controlled trial than Cox (P<0.05). Conclusions: Although observational studies using databases are subject to unmeasured confounding, our new analytical technique (PERR), applied here to cardiovascular outcomes, worked well to identify and reduce the effects of such confounding. These results suggest that electronic medical record databases can be useful to investigate therapeutic effectiveness.

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