Pharmacoepidemiology reports: Comparing period prevalences with application to drug utilization

Bentson H. McFarland

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Period prevalence is frequently measured in studies based on administrative data such as that from health maintenance organizations. For example, treated prevalence and drug utilization prevalence are important measures that are typically defined in relationship to a specified time period. Often one wishes to compare administrative data with period prevalences based on national surveys. It may also be of interest to compare period prevalences from two (or more) different data sources. This comparison is not straightforward owing to the problem of "person-time at risk." This article reviews the values and drawbacks of period prevalence as compared with cumulative incidence. Life table methodology is described for comparing period prevalence data from administrative databases with survey results. This technique can be extended to the comparison of period prevalence observations from two or more administrative data bases. Examples are given pertaining to hypnotic drug use and the treatment of schizophrenia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)473-482
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Clinical Epidemiology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1996


  • Drug utilization
  • Health maintenance organization
  • Incidence
  • Life table analysis
  • Period
  • Prevalence
  • Survival analysis
  • Treated

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology


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