Exploration of association rule mining for coding consistency and completeness assessment in inpatient administrative health data Academic Article uri icon


  • OBJECTIVE:Data quality assessment is a challenging facet for research using coded administrative health data. Current assessment approaches are time and resource intensive. We explored whether association rule mining (ARM) can be used to develop rules for assessing data quality. MATERIALS AND METHODS:We extracted 2013 and 2014 records from the hospital discharge abstract database (DAD) for patients between the ages of 55 and 65 from five acute care hospitals in Alberta, Canada. The ARM was conducted using the 2013 DAD to extract rules with support ≥0.0019 and confidence ≥0.5 using the bootstrap technique, and tested in the 2014 DAD. The rules were compared against the method of coding frequency and assessed for their ability to detect error introduced by two kinds of data manipulation: random permutation and random deletion. RESULTS:The association rules generally had clear clinical meanings. Comparing 2014 data to 2013 data (both original), there were 3 rules with a confidence difference >0.1, while coding frequency difference of codes in the right hand of rules was less than 0.004. After random permutation of 50% of codes in the 2014 data, average rule confidence dropped from 0.72 to 0.27 while coding frequency remained unchanged. Rule confidence decreased with the increase of coding deletion, as expected. Rule confidence was more sensitive to code deletion compared to coding frequency, with slope of change ranging from 1.7 to 184.9 with a median of 9.1. CONCLUSION:The ARM is a promising technique to assess data quality. It offers a systematic way to derive coding association rules hidden in data, and potentially provides a sensitive and efficient method of assessing data quality compared to standard methods.


  • Peng, Mingkai
  • Sundararajan, Vijaya
  • Williamson, Tyler
  • Minty, Evan P
  • Smith, Tony C
  • Doktorchik, Chelsea TA
  • Quan, Hude

publication date

  • 2018