Prevalence of Hypertension in Québec: A Comparison of Health administrative Data and Survey Data

Among the risk factors for cardiovascular disease, hypertension is the leading factor since 13% of deaths overall are attributed to it. Given the considerable weight of this risk factor from the standpoint of public health, it is necessary that population-based studies be conducted to measure its prevalence and evolution over time. In Québec, the universal healthcare system is administered, among other things, by means of health administrative databases that are constantly being updated and can be linked. Population-based health surveys are conducted on a regular basis and provide other types of data. The data collected through the surveys can be self-reported or measured. The main objective of this study is to compare the prevalence of estimated hypertension based on three data sources: 1) linked health administrative data; 2) self-reported data from the Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS); and 3) measured data from the Canadian Health Measures Survey (CHMS).

The three data sources studied reveal a similar prevalence of hypertension in 2009 despite a slight underestimation of the prevalence obtained through self-reported data. This study clearly shows the increase in diagnosed or self-reported hypertension since 2000-2001, both in respect of health administrative data and survey data. Québec's health administrative data should, nonetheless, be used more extensively to monitor cardiovascular diseases such as coronary heart disease or cerebrovascular disease. Indeed, the data are accessible and are constantly updated in respect of all Quebecers, regardless of age and socioeconomic status. Moreover, the linked health administrative data make it possible to determine incidence, mortality and the use of medications. The results of this study are important from the standpoint of healthcare planning and public health and confirm the need to reduce the heavy burden that hypertension represents among Quebecers, especially among the elderly.

Louis Rochette
Institut national de santé publique du Québec
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