Assessing amyotrophic lateral sclerosis prevalence in Norway from 2009 to 2015 from compulsory nationwide health registers
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Objective: In Norway, diagnoses from specialist health care visits, drug prescriptions, and causes of deaths are registered in compulsory health registers. We aimed to determine amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) prevalence from 2009 to 2015 by combining these registers. Methods:We validated the Norwegian Patient Registry (NPR) through hospital files, and linked it with the Norwegian Cause of Death Registry and the Norwegian Prescription Database. Poisson regression models were fitted for estimating gender ratios, time trends and possible interactions. Similar models were used for mortality data subtracted from the dataset. Results: Eleven percent of patients with at least one ALS-related entry in NPR did not have ALS. ALS prevalence could nevertheless be reliably estimated through ascertaining cases identified in two separate registers, or with at least two entries in NPR with first entry within four years prior to prevalence date. ALS prevalence remained stable, and was 7.6/100,000 (95% CI 6.9–8.4) at 31st December 2015. Mean male:female ratio was higher for prevalence (1.8; 95% CI 1.6–2.0) than for mortality (1.5; 95% CI 1.2–1.8) (p¼0.04). There were also significant regional differences in prevalence (p50.01) but not in mortality. Conclusions: Norwegian compulsory health registers provide reliable tools for ALS surveillance, and suggest gender and regional differences in survival after diagnosis.