Estimating the prevalence of diabetes mellitus and thyroid disorders using medication data in Flanders, Belgium
Methods: Data on medication for diabetes and thyroid disorders were obtained from three different sources in Flanders (Belgium) for 2008: a purely administrative database containing data on dispensed medication, the Belgian National Health Interview Survey for self-reported medication and diagnoses, and a patient record database for prescribed medication and doctor-registered diagnoses. Prevalences were estimated based on medication data and compared with each other. Cross-tabulations of dispensed medication and self-reported diagnoses, and prescribed medication and doctor-registered diagnoses, were investigated.
Results: Prevalences based on dispensed medication were the highest (4.39 and 2.98% for diabetes and thyroid disorders, respectively). The lowest prevalences were found using prescribed medication (2.39 and 1.72%, respectively). Cross-tabulating dispensed medication and self-reported diagnoses yielded a moderate to high sensitivity for diabetes (90.4%) and thyroid disorders (77.5%), while prescribed medication showed a low sensitivity for doctor-registered diagnoses (56.5 and 43.6%, respectively). The specificity remained above 99% in all cases.