Department of Economics and Business Economics

Positive predictive value of a register-based algorithm using the Danish National Registries to identify suicidal events

Research output: Contribution to journal/Conference contribution in journal/Contribution to newspaperJournal articleResearchpeer-review


PURPOSE: It is not possible to fully assess intention of self-harm and suicidal events using information from administrative databases. We conducted a validation study of intention of suicide attempts/self-harm contacts identified by a commonly applied Danish register-based algorithm (DK-algorithm) based on hospital discharge diagnosis and emergency room contacts.

METHODS: Of all 101 530 people identified with an incident suicide attempt/self-harm contact at Danish hospitals between 1995 and 2012 using the DK-algorithm, we selected a random sample of 475 people. We validated the DK-algorithm against medical records applying the definitions and terminology of the Columbia Classification Algorithm of Suicide Assessment of suicidal events, nonsuicidal events, and indeterminate or potentially suicidal events. We calculated positive predictive values (PPVs) of the DK-algorithm to identify suicidal events overall, by gender, age groups, and calendar time.

RESULTS: We retrieved medical records for 357 (75%) people. The PPV of the DK-algorithm to identify suicidal events was 51.5% (95% CI: 46.4-56.7) overall, 42.7% (95% CI: 35.2-50.5) in males, and 58.5% (95% CI: 51.6-65.1) in females. The PPV varied further across age groups and calendar time. After excluding cases identified via the DK-algorithm by unspecific codes of intoxications and injury, the PPV improved slightly (56.8% [95% CI: 50.0-63.4]).

CONCLUSIONS: The DK-algorithm can reliably identify self-harm with suicidal intention in 52% of the identified cases of suicide attempts/self-harm. The PPVs could be used for quantitative bias analysis and implemented as weights in future studies to estimate the proportion of suicidal events among cases identified via the DK-algorithm.

Original languageEnglish
JournalPharmacoepidemiology and Drug Safety
Pages (from-to)1131-1138
Publication statusPublished - 2018

See relations at Aarhus University Citationformats

ID: 126218523