© 2015 Al Kazzi et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. Background: The lack of adequate and standardized recording of leading risk factors for morbidity and mortality in medical records have downstream effects on research based on administrative databases. The measurement of healthcare is increasingly based on risk-adjusted outcomes derived from coded comorbidities in these databases. However inaccurate or haphazard assessment of risk factors for morbidity and mortality in medical record codes can have tremendous implications for quality improvement and healthcare reform. Objective: We aimed to compare the prevalence of obesity, overweight, tobacco use and alcohol abuse of a large administrative database with a direct data collection survey. Materials and Methods: We used the International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision, Clinical Modification (ICD-9-CM) codes for four leading risk factors in the United States Nationwide Inpatient Sample (NIS) to compare them with a direct survey in the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) in 2011. After confirming normality of the risk factors, we calculated the national and state estimates and Pearson's correlation coefficient for obesity, overweight, tobacco use and alcohol abuse between NIS and BRFSS. Results: Compared with direct participant questioning in BRFSS, NIS reported substantially lower prevalence of obesity (p < 0.01), overweight (p < 0.01), and alcohol abuse (p < 0.01), but not tobacco use (p = 0.18). The correlation between NIS and BRFSS was 0.27 for obesity (p = 0.06), 0.09 for overweight (p = 0.55), 0.62 for tobacco use (p < 0.01) and 0.40 for alcohol abuse (p < 0.01). Conclusions: The prevalence of obesity, overweight, tobacco smoking and alcohol abuse based on codes is not consistent with prevalence based on direct questioning. The accuracy of these important measures of health and morbidity in databases is critical for healthcare reform policies.
Al Kazzi, E. S., Lau, B., Li, T., Schneider, E. B., Makary, M. A., & Hutfless, S. (2015). Differences in the prevalence of obesity, smoking and alcohol in the United States Nationwide Inpatient Sample and the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System. PLoS ONE, 10(11). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0140165