Validating the diagnosis of multiple sclerosis using Swedish administrative data in Värmland County



Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic neurodegenerative disease of the central nervous system. Identifying MS at the population level is important for disease surveillance and allocation of resources. The Swedish National Patient Registry (NPR) has been used to study the epidemiology of MS, but the accuracy of this resource is not known. We aimed to validate a definition of MS using the Swedish NPR in Värmland County using a longitudinal cohort design.

Materials and Methods

Data were extracted from the NPR, the Total Population Register, the Swedish MS Register, and medical records for the years 2001–2013. Fifteen algorithms of hospitalizations and clinic visits for MS were developed and compared with findings in medical records, which acted as the “gold standard” definition. Sensitivity, specificity, and positive and negative predictive values (PPV, NPV) were estimated.


Of 805 eligible persons identified in the NPR, 763 had MS (94.8%) according to medical records. Of these, 544 (71.3%) were also registered in the SMSreg. The case definition that had a well-balanced sensitivity and specificity required three or more clinic or hospital visits for MS (sensitivity of 85.3% (95% CI: 82.6–87.8) and specificity of 81.0% (95%CI: 65.9–91.4).


Multiple case definitions with high sensitivity and moderate specificity were found, suggesting that the NPR can be used to accurately identify persons with MS.

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