Building the foundation for veterinary register-based epidemiology: a systematic approach to data quality assessment and validation.
Epidemiological studies often use data from registers. Data quality is of vital importance for the quality of the research. The aim of this study was to suggest a structured workflow to assess the quality of veterinary national registers. As an example of how to use the workflow, the quality of the following three registers was assessed: the Central Husbandry Register (CHR), the database for movement of pigs (DMP) and the national Danish register of drugs for veterinary use (VetStat). A systematic quantitative assessment was performed, with calculation the proportion of farms and observations with "poor quality" of data. "Poor" quality was defined for each measure (variable) either as a mismatch between and/or within registers, registrations of numbers outside the expected range, or unbalanced in- and outgoing movements. Interviews were conducted to make a complementary qualitative assessment. The proportion of farms and observations within each quality measure varied. This study highlights the importance of systematic quality assessment of register data and suggests a systematic approach for such assessments and validations without the use of primary data.