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Validation of Nordic dairy cattle disease recording databases—Completeness for locomotor disorders

Lind, A., Thomsen, P.T., Ersbøll, A.K., Espetvedt, M.N., Wolff, C., Rintakoski, S., Houe, H.
Preventive veterinary medicine 2012 v.107 no.3-4 pp. 204-213
cattle diseases, confidence interval, dairy cows, dairy farming, databases, disease occurrence, farmers, farms, herds, sampling, veterinarians, Denmark, Finland, Norway, Scandinavia, Sweden
The Nordic countries Denmark (DK), Finland (FIN), Norway (NO) and Sweden (SE) all have unique national databases holding the disease records of dairy cows. The objective of this study was to estimate and compare completeness for locomotor disorders in the four Nordic national databases. Completeness figures for farmer-recorded disease events were calculated on two different levels: the first refers to disease events that were observed on the farm regardless of whether a veterinarian had been involved (FARMER); the second refers to farmer records of cases attended by a veterinarian, i.e. to veterinarian-treated disease events (VET). A sample of herds with 15 or more cows was obtained from a simple random sample of dairy farms in FIN, NO and SE, and from a systematic random sample in DK. There were 105, 167, 179 and 129 participating farmers in DK, FIN, NO and SE, respectively, and during two 2-month periods in 2008 these farmers recorded the disease events they observed on the farm. Data from the four national databases were extracted in May 2009. The two data sources, farmer recordings and national databases, were managed in a comparable way in all four countries, and common diagnostic codes were created and added to match recordings appearing in both datasets. In all 555 farmers completed data records in the first data-recording period, and 515 farmers did so in the second period. In DK, FIN, NO and SE, 55%, 77%, 82% and 75%, participating farmers completed the recordings during the first recording period, respectively; the corresponding figures for the second recording period were 71%, 82%, 83% and 91%. To calculate completeness, disease cases recorded in the national databases were compared with the farmer recordings using an exact match for the locomotor complex defined as same country, herd identification number (id), cow id, and event date at the levels of FARMER and VET. Completeness at FARMER level were 0.22, 0.21, 0.23 and 0.12 in DK, FIN, NO and SE, respectively. At VET level they were 0.37, 0.27, 0.34 and 0.17. To compare differences in completeness between countries exact 95% confidence intervals were calculated. There were significant differences in completeness between DK and SE at both FARMER and VET level. The completeness indicate that the ability to estimate true disease occurrences in the four national databases varies and is in general poor. Completeness should be taken into account when disease occurrences in different countries are compared.