Background: The aim of the study was to develop quality indicators that can be used for quality assessment of registries of occupational diseases in relation to preventive policy on a national level. The research questions were: 1. Which indicators determine the quality of national registries of occupational diseases with respect to their ability to provide appropriate information for preventive policy? 2. What are the criteria that can distinguish low quality from high quality?
Methods: First, we performed a literature search to assess which output of registries can be considered appropriate for preventive policy and to develop a set of preliminary indicators and criteria. Second, final indicators and criteria were assessed and their content validity was tested in a Delphi study, for which experts from the 25 EU Member States were invited.
Results: The literature search revealed two different types of information output to be appropriate for preventive policy: monitor and alert information. For the evaluation of the quality of the monitor and alert function we developed ten indicators and criteria. Sixteen of the twenty-five experts responded in the first round of the Delphi study, and eleven in the second round. Based on their comments, we assessed the final nine indicators: the completeness of the notification form, coverage of registration, guidelines or criteria for notification, education and training of reporting physicians, completeness of registration, statistical methods used, investigation of special cases, presentation of monitor information, and presentation of alert information. Except for the indicator "coverage of registration" for the alert function, all the indicators met the preset requirements of content validity.
Conclusion: We have developed quality indicators and criteria to evaluate registries for occupational diseases on the ability to provide appropriate information for preventive policy on a national level. Together, these indicators form a tool which can be used for quality improvement of registries of occupational diseases.