Reliability of Indiana birth certificate data compared to medical records

Ann Epidemiol. 2006 Jan;16(1):1-10. doi: 10.1016/j.annepidem.2005.03.005. Epub 2005 Jul 21.


Purpose: The purpose of this study was to measure the reliability of data reported on Indiana electronic birth certificates. Knowing the accuracy of birth certificate data is crucial when identifying community health needs and evaluating birth outcomes interventions.

Methods: This study compared 1996 electronic birth certificate data on a random sample of 1050 Indiana hospital births to data abstracted from the hospital medical records for the same patients. Kappa scores, Pearson r correlation values, sensitivity, specificity, and positive predictive values of the birth certificate data were used to measure agreement.

Results: Parents' demographic variables had the best agreement, followed by birth outcome variables. Delivery type, cesarean indications, pregnancy history, prenatal care and mother's risk variables were found to have moderate agreement. Agreement was poor for variables measuring labor and delivery complications, obstetric procedures, concurrent illnesses, pregnancy complications, congenital anomalies, and abnormal conditions.

Conclusions: The results of this study clearly show that some important descriptive and outcome data are reliable while infrequent events are generally not. The results indicate a need to improve the quality of data reported on birth certificates.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Validation Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Birth Certificates*
  • Community Health Planning
  • Documentation / standards*
  • Female
  • Hospital Records / standards
  • Humans
  • Indiana
  • Male
  • Medical Records / standards*
  • Reproducibility of Results