Linking clinical quality indicators to research evidence - A case study in asthma management for children

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Background: Clinical quality indicators are used to monitor the performance of healthcare services and should wherever possible be based on research evidence. Little is known however about the extent to which indicators in common use are based on research. The objective of this study is to measure the extent to which clinical quality indicators used in asthma management in children with outcome measurements can be linked to results in randomised controlled clinical trial (RCT) reports. This work is part of a broader research program to trial methods that improve the efficiency and accuracy of indicator development. Methods: National-level indicators for asthma management in children were extracted from the National Quality Measures Clearinghouse database and the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence quality standards by two independent appraisers. Outcome measures were extracted from all published English language RCT reports for asthma management in children below the age of 12 published between 2005 and 2014. The two sets were then linked by manually mapping both to a common set of Unified Medical Language System (UMLS) concepts. Results: The analysis identified 39 indicators and 562 full text RCTs dealing with asthma management in children. About 95% (37/39) of the indicators could be linked to RCT outcome measures. Conclusions: It is possible to identify relevant RCT reports for the majority of indicators used to assess the quality of asthma management in childhood. The methods reported here could be automated to more generally support assessment of candidate indicators against the research evidence.




Choong, M. K., Tsafnat, G., Hibbert, P., Runciman, W. B., & Coiera, E. (2017). Linking clinical quality indicators to research evidence - A case study in asthma management for children. BMC Health Services Research, 17(1).

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