Secondary analysis of health administrative databases is indispensable to enriching our understanding of health trajectories, health care utilization, and real-world risks and benefits of drugs among large populations.
This systematic review aimed at assessing evidence about the validity of algorithms for the identification of individuals suffering from nonarthritic chronic noncancer pain (CNCP) in administrative databases.
Studies reporting measures of diagnostic accuracy of such algorithms and published in English or French were searched in the Medline, Embase, CINAHL, AgeLine, PsycINFO, and Abstracts in Social Gerontology electronic databases without any dates of coverage restrictions up to March 1, 2018. Reference lists of included studies were also screened for additional publications.
Only six studies focused on commonly studied CNCP conditions and were included in the review. Some algorithms showed a ≥60% combination of sensitivity and specificity values (back pain disorders in general, fibromyalgia, low back pain, migraine, neck/back problems studied together). Only algorithms designed to identify fibromyalgia cases reached a ≥80% combination (without replication of findings in other studies/databases).
In summary, the present investigation informs us about the limited amount of literature available to guide and support the use of administrative databases as valid sources of data for research on CNCP. Considering the added value of such data sources, the important research gaps identified in this innovative review provide important directions for future research. The review protocol was registered with PROSPERO (CRD42018086402).

© 2020 American Academy of Pain Medicine.