Stability of diagnostic coding of psychiatric outpatient visits across the transition from the second to the third version of the Danish National Patient Registry

Acta Psychiatr Scand. 2022 Jun 22. doi: 10.1111/acps.13463. Online ahead of print.


Objective: In Denmark, data on hospital contacts are reported to the Danish National Patient Registry (DNPR). The ICD-10 main diagnoses from the DNPR are often used as proxies for mental disorders in psychiatric research. With the transition from the second version of the DNPR (DNPR2) to the third (DNPR3) in February-March 2019, the way main diagnoses are coded in relation to outpatient treatment changed substantially. Specifically, in the DNPR2, each outpatient treatment course was labelled with only one main diagnosis. In the DNPR3, however, each visit during an outpatient treatment course is labelled with a main diagnosis. We assessed whether this change led to a break in the diagnostic time-series represented by the DNPR, which would pose a threat to the research relying on this source.

Methods: All main diagnoses from outpatients attending the Psychiatric Services of the Central Denmark Region from 2013 to 2021 (n = 100,501 unique patients) were included in the analyses. The stability of the DNPR diagnostic time-series at the ICD-10 subchapter level was examined by comparing means across the transition from the DNPR2 to the DNPR3.

Results: While the proportion of psychiatric outpatients with diagnoses from some ICD-10 subchapters changed statistically significantly from the DNPR2 to the DNPR3, the changes were small in absolute terms (e.g., +0.6% for F2-psychotic disorders and +0.6% for F3-mood disorders).

Conclusion: The change from the DNPR2 to the DNPR3 is unlikely to pose a substantial threat to the validity of most psychiatric research at the diagnostic subchapter level.

Keywords: diagnosis; electronic health records; mental disorders; registries.