Accuracy of commercially available residential histories for epidemiologic studies

Am J Epidemiol. 2011 Jan 15;173(2):236-43. doi: 10.1093/aje/kwq350. Epub 2010 Nov 17.


A key problem facing epidemiologists who wish to account for residential mobility in their analyses is the cost and difficulty of obtaining residential histories. Commercial residential history data of acceptable accuracy, cost, and coverage would be of great value. The present research evaluated the accuracy of residential histories from LexisNexis, Inc. The authors chose LexisNexis because the Michigan Cancer Registry has considered using their data, they have excellent procedures for privacy protection, and they make available residential histories at 25 cents per person. Only first and last name and address at last-known residence are required to access the residential history. The authors compared lifetime residential histories collected through the use of written surveys in a case-control study of bladder cancer in Michigan to the 3 residential addresses routinely available in the address history from LexisNexis. The LexisNexis address matches, as a whole, accounted for 71.5% of participants' lifetime addresses. These results provided a level of accuracy that indicates routine use of residential histories from commercial vendors is feasible. More detailed residential histories are available at a higher cost but were not analyzed in this study. Although higher accuracy is desirable, LexisNexis data are a vast improvement over the assumption of immobile individuals currently used in many spatial and spatiotemporal studies.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Validation Study

MeSH terms

  • Databases, Factual*
  • Humans
  • Population Dynamics*