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Open Access Open Badges Research article

Validation of administrative health data for the pediatric population: a scoping review

Natalie J Shiff1*, Sadia Jama2, Catherine Boden3 and Lisa M Lix4

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Pediatrics, College of Medicine, University of Saskatchewan, 103 Hospital Drive, SK S7N 0W8, Saskatoon, Canada

2 Department of Community Health and Epidemiology, College of Medicine, University of Saskatchewan, 103 Hospital Drive, SK S7N 0W8, Saskatoon, Canada

3 University Library, University of Saskatchewan, Room 1441, Leslie and Irene Dube Health Sciences Library, 104 Clinic Place, SK S7N 5E5, Saskatoon, Canada

4 Department of Community Health Sciences, S113-750 Bannatyne Avenue, University of Manitoba, MB R3E 0W3, Winnipeg, Canada

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BMC Health Services Research 2014, 14:236  doi:10.1186/1472-6963-14-236

Published: 22 May 2014



The purpose of this research was to perform a scoping review of published literature on the validity of administrative health data for ascertaining health conditions in the pediatric population (≤20 years).


A comprehensive search of OVID Medline (1946 - present), CINAHL (1937 - present) and EMBASE (1947 - present) was conducted. Characteristics of validation studies that were abstracted included the study population, health condition, topic of the validation (e.g., single diagnosis code versus case-finding algorithm), administrative and validation data sources. Inter-rater agreement was measured using Cohen’s κ. Extracted data were analyzed using descriptive statistics.


A total of 37 articles met the study inclusion criteria. Cohen’s κ for study inclusion/exclusion and data abstraction was 0.88 and 0.97, respectively. Most studies validated administrative data from the USA (43.2%) and Canada (24.3%), and focused on inpatient records (67.6%). Case-finding algorithms (56.7%) were more frequently validated than diagnoses codes alone (37.8%). Five conditions were validated in more than one study: diabetes mellitus, inflammatory bowel disease, asthma, rotavirus infection, and tuberculosis.


This scoping review identified a number of gaps in the validation of administrative health data for pediatric populations, including limited investigation of outpatient populations and older pediatric age groups.