Comparison of medicare claims versus physician adjudication for identifying stroke outcomes in the women's health initiative

Kamakshi Lakshminarayan, Joseph C. Larson, Beth Virnig, Candace Fuller, Norrina Bai Allen, Marian Limacher, Wolfgang C. Winkelmayer, Monika M. Safford, Dale R. Burwen

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


Background and Purpose-Many studies use medical record review for ascertaining outcomes. One large, longitudinal study, the Women's Health Initiative (WHI), ascertains strokes using participant self-report and subsequent physician review of medical records. This is resource-intensive. Herein, we assess whether Medicare data can reliably assess stroke events in the WHI. Methods-Subjects were WHI participants with fee-for-service Medicare. Four stroke definitions were created for Medicare data using discharge diagnoses in hospitalization claims: definition 1, stroke codes in any position definition 2, primary position stroke codes and definitions 3 and 4, hemorrhagic and ischemic stroke codes, respectively. WHI data were randomly split into training (50%) and test sets. A concordance matrix was used to examine the agreement between WHI and Medicare stroke diagnosis. A WHI stroke and a Medicare stroke were considered a match if they occurred within ±7 days of each other. Refined analyses excluded Medicare events when medical records were unavailable for comparison. Results- Training data consisted of 24428 randomly selected participants. There were 577 WHI strokes and 557 Medicare strokes using definition 1. Of these, 478 were a match. With regard to algorithm performance, specificity was 99.7%, negative predictive value was 99.7%, sensitivity was 82.8%, positive predictive value was 85.8%, and k=0.84. Performance was similar for test data. Whereas specificity and negative predictive value exceeded 99%, sensitivity ranged from 75% to 88% and positive predictive value ranged from 80% to 90% across stroke definitions. Conclusions-Medicare data seem useful for population-based stroke research however, performance characteristics depend on the definition selected.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)815-821
Number of pages7
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2014


  • Medicare
  • Stroke
  • Validation studies


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