BACKGROUND: Primary care databases from the UK have been widely used to produce evidence on the epidemiology and health service usage of a wide range of conditions. To date there have been few evaluations of the comparability of estimates between different sources of these data.
AIM: To estimate the comparability of two widely used primary care databases, the Health Improvement Network Database (THIN) and the General Practice Research Database (GPRD) using venous leg ulceration as an exemplar condition.
DESIGN OF STUDY: Cross prospective cohort comparison.
SETTING: GPRD and the THIN databases using data from 1998 to 2006.
METHOD: A data set was extracted from both databases containing all cases of persons aged 20 years or greater with a database diagnosis of venous leg ulceration recorded in the databases for the period 1998-2006. Annual rates of incidence and prevalence of venous leg ulceration were calculated within each database and standardized to the European standard population and compared using standardized rate ratios.
RESULTS: Comparable estimates of venous leg ulcer incidence from the GPRD and THIN databases could be obtained using data from 2000 to 2006 and of prevalence using data from 2001 to 2006.
CONCLUSIONS: Recent data collected by these two databases are more likely to produce comparable results of the burden venous leg ulceration. These results require confirmation in other disease areas to enable researchers to have confidence in the comparability of findings from these two widely used primary care research resources.