Use of demographic and pharmacy data to identify patients included within both the Clinical Practice Research Datalink (CPRD) and The Health Improvement Network (THIN)

Pharmacoepidemiol Drug Saf. 2015 Sep;24(9):999-1003. doi: 10.1002/pds.3844. Epub 2015 Jul 27.


Purpose: Pharmacoepidemiology researchers often utilize data from two UK electronic medical record databases, the Clinical Practice Research Datalink (CPRD) and The Health Improvement Network (THIN), and may choose to combine the two in an effort to increase sample size. To minimize duplication of data, previous studies examined the practice-level overlap between these databases. However, the proportion of overlapping patients remains unknown. We developed a method using demographic and pharmacy variables to identify patients included in both CPRD and THIN, and applied this method to measure the proportion of overlapping patients who initiated the oral anti-diabetic drug saxagliptin.

Methods: We conducted a cross-sectional study among patients initiating saxagliptin in CPRD and THIN between October 2009 and September 2012. Within both databases, we identified patients: (i) ≥18 years, (ii) newly prescribed saxagliptin, and (iii) with ≥180 days enrollment prior to saxagliptin initiation. Demographic data (birth year, sex, patient registration date, family number, and marital status) and prescriptions (including dates) for the first two oral anti-diabetic drugs prescribed within the study period were used to identify matching patients.

Results: Among 4202 CPRD and 3641 THIN patients initiating saxagliptin, 2574 overlapping patients (61% of CPRD saxagliptin initiators; 71% of THIN saxagliptin initiators) were identified. Among these patients, 2474 patients (96%) perfectly matched on all demographic and prescription data.

Conclusions: Within each database, over 60% of patients initiating saxagliptin were included within both CPRD and THIN. Combined demographic and prescription data can be used to identify patients included in both CPRD and THIN.

Keywords: Clinical Practice Research Datalink (CPRD); The Health Improvement Network (THIN); overlap; pharmacoepidemiology.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adamantane / analogs & derivatives*
  • Adamantane / therapeutic use
  • Cohort Studies
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Databases, Factual / statistics & numerical data*
  • Dipeptides / therapeutic use*
  • Electronic Health Records / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Male
  • Pharmacy / statistics & numerical data*
  • United Kingdom / epidemiology


  • Dipeptides
  • Hypoglycemic Agents
  • saxagliptin
  • Adamantane