NB-IRDT chronic obstructive pulmonary disease research program – Report one: Investigation of Statistics Canada public use microdata files

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New Brunswick Institute for Research, Data and Training


This report examines the utility of existing and easy-to-access data in the form of Statistics Canada’s Canadian Community Health Survey public use microdata files (CCHS PUMF). These data sources allow for easy presentation of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) at the New Brunswick level, as well as partial presentation at the health zone level. Because the CCHS is an annual national product, we will be able to continually update the data presented herein following the trends over time and can compare NB values against other Canadian jurisdictions for benchmarking. Further, the CCHS PUMF data include a variety of items for examination rarely available in administrative data sources—items like: Blood Pressure Body Mass Index Difficulty with Activities Education Life Stress Needed Help with Instrumental Activities of Daily Living Physical Inactivity Self-Perceived Health Type of Smoker Working Status However, while the breadth of data available via the CCHS PUMF is impressive and allows insights into a variety of topics, these data lack depth. Statistics Canada removes identifying information from the CCHS PUMF data before release. As such, we cannot link CCHS data to other data sources such as census responses, records of health service use, etc. Further, the survey nature of the CCHS leads to sample size issues that present difficulties when there is interest in presenting values at smaller geographies—in many cases, it simply isn’t possible. Finally, due to the nature of self-reporting, the CCHS data run the risk of biases typically associated with survey data (such as social desirability bias), potentially leading to lower counts of COPD cases when self-report estimates are compared to administrative data case identification estimates. For example, research that linked self-report data to administrative data in Ontario demonstrated this trend in several chronic health conditions (including COPD1), a finding consistent with research from the US. The self-report data contained in the CCHS PUMF may be imperfect, but they nonetheless represent one avenue for obtaining useful insights into COPD in New Brunswick. Alongside the Public Health Agency of Canada’s administrative data approach in the Canadian Chronic Disease Surveillance System, and NB-CHIP, they will help us develop better understanding of COPD in New Brunswick. These insights will ultimately allow the New Brunswick health system and care providers to provide improved care to New Brunswickers living with COPD while simultaneously striving to prevent future cases of COPD.