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Validity of asthma diagnoses and patterns of anti-asthmatic drug use in a cohort of 2053 Danish children

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Background and Aims: When investigating and treating asthma in children, diagnosing must be precise and valid. There is a need for studies researching asthma in children showing how to use registry-based, epidemiological data. We examined the feasibility and validity of using anti-asthmatic drug prescription data to identify children with asthma and assessed medication patterns in children with and without confirmed asthma.

Methods: We used population-based Danish prescription data and hospital discharge registries to identify all children aged 0 to 14 years who had redeemed at least one prescription for an inhaled anti-asthmatic drug. Individual asthma cases were validated by hospital discharge information and by their treating general practitioners according to international asthma guidelines.

Results: In total, 2053 children, out of a population of 20181, had redeemed at least one prescription of any inhaled anti-asthmatic drug. The positive predictive value (PPV) of having two different asthma medications prescribed in 1 year was 80.2% for presence of true asthma, with a sensitivity of 59%. Corresponding estimates of PPV/sensitivity of at least one prescription for an inhaled corticosteroid (ICS) were 79% and 58%, respectively, while the true asthma PPV with at least one LABA prescription increased to 97%. Among children with confirmed asthma, one-third had not used Beta2-agonist therapy as part of their treatment. Conversely, among children without confirmed asthma, 40% were prescribed a minimum of two prescriptions for any kind of inhaled anti-asthmatic drug, and 12% and 9% used an ICS or Leukotriene receptor antagonist, respectively.

Conclusions: Anti-asthmatic drug prescription data could be used to identify children with true asthma, with reasonable accuracy. The observed pattern of anti-asthmatic medication usage among children with and without confirmed asthma suggests that there is room for therapeutic improvement.

Original languageEnglish
JournalHealth Education Research
Pages (from-to)e77
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2018

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