Data sources for pharmacoeconomic and health services research

Barbara A. Else, Edward P. Armstrong, Emily R. Cox

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Different types of databases available for health-related research, the data contained in these databases, and potential applications for pharmacists or researchers are discussed. Case studies that demonstrate uses for health databases are presented. Databases can be organized by facility, by health care provider, by disease or organ, or by sector. The types of data they contain include financial data, utilization data, demographic data, and outcomes data. Data can be obtained from the public sector, the private sector, or the researcher's own health system. The costs and time associated with using existing databases are often less than those required to collect data, but the quality and accessibility of the data must also be considered. The researcher's choice of database will depend on the research question. Health care databases can be used for health management and decision-making, quality review and evaluation, outcomes research, episode-of-illness studies, and evaluation of treatment protocols. Researchers must comply with patient- confidentiality and other agreements when accessing data. The format of the data needs to be matched with the hardware and software to be used in the analysis, and the data need to be loaded, verified, and cleaned before use. In deciding which of the many available data sources to use, researchers must determine the appropriate balance between external data and data available within their own health systems. The decision on whether to use existing data sources or to collect data prospectively will depend on the research question, the available resources, and the scope of the study.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2601-2608
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican Journal of Health-System Pharmacy
Issue number22
StatePublished - 1997
Externally publishedYes


  • Databases
  • Health care
  • Pharmacists
  • Pharmacoeconomics
  • Research

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Health Policy


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