Quebec Integrated Chronic Disease Surveillance System (QICDSS), an innovative approach
INTRODUCTION: With the growing burden of chronic diseases, surveillance will play an essential role in improving their prevention and control. The Institut national de santé publique du Québec has developed an innovative chronic disease surveillance system, the Quebec Integrated Chronic Disease Surveillance System (QICDSS). We discuss the primary features, strengths and limitations of this system in this report. METHODS: The QICDSS was created by linking five health administrative databases. Updated annually, it currently covers the period from January 1, 1996, to March 31, 2012. The operational model comprises three steps: (1) extraction and linkage of health administrative data according to specific selection criteria; (2) analysis (validation of case definitions essentially) and production of surveillance measures; and (3) data interpretation, submission and dissemination of information. The QICDSS allows the surveillance of the following chronic diseases: diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, respiratory diseases, osteoporosis, osteoarticular diseases, mental disorders, Alzheimer's disease and related disorders. The system also lends itself to the analysis of multimorbidity and polypharmacy. RESULTS: For 2011-2012, the QICDSS contained information on 7 995 963 Quebecers with an average age of 40.8 years. Of these, 95.3% met at least one selection criterion allowing the application of case definitions for chronic disease surveillance. The actual proportion varied with age, from 90.1% for those aged 19 years or less to 99.3% for those aged 65 years or over. CONCLUSION: The QICDSS provides a way of producing population-based data on the chronic disease burden, health services and prescription drug uses. The system facilitates the integrated study of several diseases in combination, an approach rarely implemented until now in the context of population surveillance. The QICDSS possesses all the essential features of a surveillance system and supports the dissemination of information to public health decision-makers for future actions.
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