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Using Rich Data on Comorbiditiesin Case-Control Study Design with Electronic Health Record Data Improves Control of Confounding in the Detection of Adverse Drug Reactions

Backenroth, Daniel; Chase Jr., Herbert; Friedman, Carol; Wei, Ying

Recent research has suggested that the case-control study design, unlike the self-controlled study design, performs poorly in controlling confounding in the detection of adverse drug reactions (ADRs) from administrative claims and electronic health record (EHR) data, resulting in biased estimates of the causal effects of drugs on health outcomes of interest (HOI) and inaccurate confidence intervals. Here we show that using rich data on comorbidities and automatic variable selection strategies for selecting confounders can better control confounding within a case-control study design and provide a more solid basis for inference regarding the causal effects of drugs on HOIs. Four HOIs are examined: acute kidney injury, acute liver injury, acute myocardial infarction and gastrointestinal ulcer hospitalization. For each of these HOIs we use a previously published reference set of positive and negative control drugs to evaluate the performance of our methods. Our methods have AUCs that are often substantially higher than the AUCs of a baseline method that only uses demographic characteristics for confounding control. Our methods also give confidence intervals for causal effect parameters that cover the expected no effect value substantially more often than this baseline method. The case-control study design, unlike the self-controlled study design, can be used in the fairly typical setting of EHR databases without longitudinal information on patients. With our variable selection method, these databases can be more effectively used for the detection of ADRs.


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Biomedical Informatics
Published Here
January 17, 2017