Martín-Merino E, Fortuny J, Rivero E, García-Rodríguez LA. Validation of diabetic retinopathy and maculopathy diagnoses recorded in a UK primary care database. Diabetes Care. 2012 Apr;35(4):762-7.

OBJECTIVE: To describe the validity of recorded diabetic retinopathy (DR) and diabetic maculopathy (DMP) diagnoses, including edema (DMO) in The Health Improvement Network (THIN) database.

RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS: In two independent computer searches, we detected 20,838 patients with diabetes aged 1–84 years with a first DR computer Read entry in 2000–2008 and 4,064 with a first DMP entry. A two-step strategy was used to validate both outcomes as follows: 1) review of patient profiles including free-text comments from primary care practitioners (PCPs) (containing referral information and test results) of a random sample of 500 DR and all DMP computer-detected patients. We classified them in probable, possible, and noncase according to the diagnosis plausibility based on the manual review of the computerized information; and 2) review of questionnaires sent by PCPs and medical records in a random sample (N = 200 for each outcome including 36 diabetic macular edema [DMO]). Gold standard was PCPs' confirmation.

RESULTS: After profiles review, we categorized 418 as probable/possible DR. In addition, 3,676 DMP were categorized as probable/possible (including 711 DMO). After review of information sent by PCPs, confirmation rates were 87.3 and 87.2%, respectively (90.3% for DMO). When we applied them to the whole sample of computer-detected patients, the weighted confirmation rate was 78.0% for DR and 78.8% for DMP (86.2% for DMO).

CONCLUSIONS: Read codes for DR, DM, and DMO are moderately accurate in identifying incident case subjects of these ophthalmologic complications. The validity improved when incorporating PCPs' text comments to the patient's profile. THIN database proved to be a valuable resource to study ophthalmological diabetes complications.

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