Review on use of German health insurance medication claims data for epidemiological research

Pharmacoepidemiol Drug Saf. 2009 May;18(5):349-56. doi: 10.1002/pds.1721.


Purpose: The objective was to evaluate the use of German health insurance claims data on medications over the last 10 years by a review of published studies.

Methods: PubMed and Scopus were searched for relevant studies published in 1998 through 2007.

Results: A total of 70 studies were included. Use of these data increased from 32 reports (45.7%) between 1998 and 2005 to 38 (54.3%) over the last 2 years (2006-2007). Over half of the studies (57.1%; n = 40) were written in English and the most frequent research types were health service utilization (51.4%; n = 36) and cost analyses (18.6%; n = 13). In most of the studies (65.7%; n = 46), medication data were linked with other health care utilization claims (e.g. hospitalization data and physicians' outpatient services). Data validity was not taken into consideration in 40.6% (n = 13) of the 32 studies that also analysed hospitalization or physicians' outpatient diagnoses.

Conclusions: German health insurance medication claims data were increasingly used for research purposes over the last 10 years. Especially methodological and validation studies are clearly needed.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Delivery of Health Care / statistics & numerical data*
  • Epidemiologic Studies*
  • Germany
  • Humans
  • Insurance Claim Review*