Volume 47 Number 8, 2010
Pages 679 — 688
Abstract — The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) provides integrated services to more than 25,000 veterans with spinal cord injuries and disorders (SCI/D). VA data offer great potential for providing insights into healthcare utilization and morbidity, and these capabilities are central to efforts to improve healthcare for veterans with SCI/D. The objective of this article is to introduce researchers to the use of VA data to examine questions related to SCI/D using examples from Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) Quality Enhancement Research Initiative studies. Sources of VA data available to investigators interested in SCI/D-related research include national-level VA administrative and clinical databases and primary data (medical record review, patient surveys). Methods used to identify veterans with SCI/D include the Allocation Resource Center cohort, the Spinal Cord Dysfunction (SCD) Registry, and the VA inpatient SCI flag; only 33% of veterans were included in all three groups (n = 12,306). While neurological level of SCI was unknown for approximately a third of veterans (from SCD Registry data alone), the percent decreased to 13% when augmented with diagnostic codes. Primary data can be used to augment other missing SCI data and to provide more detailed information about complications commonly associated with SCI/D.
Key words: data quality, paraplegia, pressure ulcers, rehabilitation, respiratory, spinal cord injuries and disorders, spinal cord injury, tetraplegia, VA, veterans.
Last Reviewed or Updated Wednesday, October 27, 2010 1:31 PM