Differing definitions of first-ever stroke influence incidence estimates more than trends: a study using linked administrative data.

D Youens, J Katzenellenbogen, Ragavan R Srinivasa, N Sodhi-Berry, J Carson, D Zemedikun, AG Thrift, V Feigin, L Nedkoff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction Researchers apply varying definitions when measuring stroke incidence using administrative data. We aimed to investigate the sensitivity of incidence estimates to varying definitions of stroke and lookback periods, and to provide updated incidence rates and trends for Western Australia (WA). Methods We used linked state-wide hospital and death data from 1985-2017 to identify incident strokes from 2005-2017. A standard definition was applied which included strokes coded as the principal hospital diagnosis or the underlying cause of death, with a 10-year lookback used to clear prevalent cases. Alternative definitions were compared against the standard definition by percentage difference in case numbers. Age-standardised incidence rates were calculated, and age- and sex-adjusted Poisson regression models used to estimate incidence trends. Results The standard definition with a 10-year lookback period captured 31,274 incident strokes. Capture increased by 19.3% when including secondary diagnoses, 4.1% when including nontraumatic subdural and extradural haemorrhage, and 8.1% when including associated causes of death. Excluding death records reduced capture by 11.1%. A 20-year lookback reduced over-ascertainment by 2.0% and a 1-year lookback increased capture by 13.3%. Incidence declined 0.6% annually (95% confidence interval -0.9, -0.3). Annual reductions were similar for most definitions except when death records were excluded (-0.1%, CI -0.4, 0.2) and with the shortest lookback periods (greatest annual reduction). Conclusion Stroke incidence has declined in WA. Differing methods of identifying stroke influence estimates of incidence to a greater extent than estimates of trends. Reductions in stroke incidence over time are primarily driven by declines in hospitalised stroke.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)423-432
Number of pages10
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2023

Cite this