Linking the Paul Coverdell National Acute Stroke Program to commercial claims to establish a framework for real-world longitudinal stroke research


Non-interventional large-scale research on real-world patients who had a stroke requires the use of multiple data sources ensuring access to longitudinal data from large populations with clinically-detailed information. We sought to establish a framework for longitudinal research on patients hospitalised with stroke by linking information-rich, deidentified inpatient data from the Paul Coverdell National Acute Stroke Program (PCNASP) to commercial and Medicare Advantage longitudinal claims data.


All stroke admissions in PCNASP between 2008 and 2015 were evaluated for linkage to longitudinal claims from a commercial insurer using an algorithm based on six available common data fields (patient age, gender, admission date, discharge date, discharge diagnosis and state) and a hospital match. We evaluated the linkage quality (via the percentage of unique records in the linked dataset) and the representativeness of the linked population. We also described medical history, stroke severity and patterns of medication use among the PCNASP-claims linked cohort.


The linkage produced uniqueness equal to 99.1%. We identified 5644 linked and 98 896 unlinked patients who had an ischaemic stroke hospitalisation in claims data. Linked patients were younger than unlinked (69.7 vs 72.5 years), but otherwise similar by medical history, prestroke medication use or lab values. Stroke severity was mild and most patients were discharged home. Prestroke and discharge use of antihypertensive and statins in the PCNASP were greater than their use as measured by filled prescriptions in claims.


High-quality linkage between the PCNASP and commercial claims data is feasible. This linkage identified differences between reported or recommended versus actual out-of-hospital medication utilisation, highlighting the importance of longitudinal data availability for research aimed to improve the care of patients who had a stroke.

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