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Data Quality in an Information-Rich Environment: Canada as an Example

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  31 March 2010

Leslie L. Roos*
Department of Community Health Sciences, University of Manitoba
Sumit Gupta
Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto
Ruth-Ann Soodeen
Department of Community Health Sciences, University of Manitoba
Laurel Jebamani
Department of Community Health Sciences, University of Manitoba
Requests for offprints should be sent to: / Les demandes de tirés-à-part doivent être addressées à : Leslie L. Roos, Ph.D., Manitoba Centre for Health Policy, Department of Community Health Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, University of Manitoba, 4th Floor Brodie Centre, Room 408, 727 McDermot Avenue, Winnipeg, MB R3E 3P5. (


This review evaluates the quality of available administrative data in the Canadian provinces, emphasizing the information needed to create integrated systems. We explicitly compare approaches to quality measurement, indicating where record linkage can and cannot substitute for more expensive record re-abstraction. Forty-nine original studies evaluating Canadian administrative data (registries, hospital abstracts, physician claims, and prescription drugs) are summarized in a structured manner. Registries, hospital abstracts, and physician files appear to be generally of satisfactory quality, though much work remains to be done. Data quality did not vary systematically among provinces. Primary data collection to check place of residence and longitudinal follow-up in provincial registries is needed. Promising initial checks of pharmaceutical data should be expanded. Because record linkage studies were “conservative” in reporting reliability, the reduction of time-consuming record re-abstraction appears feasible in many cases. Finally, expanding the scope of administrative data to study health, as well as health care, seems possible for some chronic conditions. The research potential of the information-rich environments being created highlights the importance of data quality.


Cette étude vise à évaluer la qualité des données administratives disponibles dans les provinces canadiennes, tout en mettant l'accent sur les renseignements nécessaires pour créer des systèmes intégrés. Nous comparons explicitement diverses approches en matière de mesure de la qualité, en indiquant dans quel cas le couplage des dossiers peut ou non se substituer à la méthode plus onéreuse de la seconde saisie des dossiers. Quarante-neuf études originales visant à évaluer les données administratives canadiennes (registres, résumés d'hospitalisation, demandes des médecins et médicaments sur ordonnance) sont résumées de manière structurée. Les registres, les résumés d'hospitalisation et les dossiers des médecins semblent généralement de qualité satisfaisante, bien qu'il reste beaucoup de travail à accomplir. La qualité des données n'a pas fait l'objet de variations systématiques entre les provinces. Des données primaires doivent être recueillies afin de vérifier les lieux de résidence et effectuer un suivi longitudinal dans les registres provinciaux. Les vérifications initiales des données pharmaceutiques se sont révélées prometteuses et doivent être poursuivies. É tant donné que les études fondées sur le couplage des dossiers étaient «prudentes» dans leurs conclusions en matière de fiabilité, la réduction du nombre de secondes saisies qui prennent beaucoup de temps semblerait faisable dans bien des cas. Enfin, il pourrait être possible d'étendre la portée des données administratives de manière à étudier l'état de santé, ainsi que les soins de santé pour certaines conditions chroniques. Le potentiel de recherche des milieux riches en informations qui sont en train d'être créés permet de souligner l'importance de la qualité des données.

Copyright © Canadian Association on Gerontology 2005

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