Objective: To assess the accuracy of hypertensive disorders of pregnancy reporting in birth and hospital discharge data compared with data abstracted from medical records.
Methods: Data from a validation study of 1200 women provided the 'gold standard' for hypertension status. The validation data were linked to both hospital discharge and birth databases. Hypertension could be reported in one, both, or neither database.
Results: Of the 1184 records available for review, 8.3% of women had pregnancy-related hypertension and 1.3% had chronic hypertension. Reporting sensitivities ranged from 23% to 99% and specificities from 96% to 100%. Using broad rather than specific categories of hypertension and more than one source to identify hypertension improved case ascertainment. Women with severe preeclampsia or adverse outcomes were more likely to have their pregnancy-related hypertension reported. When the hypertension reporting was discordant on the birth and hospital discharge data, the hospital data were more accurate.
Conclusions: Pregnancy-related hypertension is reported with a reasonable level of accuracy, but chronic hypertension is markedly under-ascertained, even when cases were identified from more than one source. Milder forms of hypertension are more likely to go unreported. Studies utilizing population health data may overestimate the proportion of more severe forms of disease and any risk these conditions contribute to other outcomes.