Reducing Clinical Noise for Body Mass Index Measures Due to Unit and Transcription Errors in the Electronic Health Record.

Body mass index (BMI) is an important outcome and covariate adjustment for many clinical association studies. Accurate assessment of BMI, therefore, is a critical part of many study designs. Electronic health records (EHRs) are a growing source of clinical data for research purposes, and have proven useful for identifying and replicating genetic associations. EHR-based data collected for clinical and billing purposes have several unique properties, including a high degree of heterogeneity or “clinical noise.” In this work, we propose a new method for reducing the problems of transcription and recording error for height and weight and apply these methods to a subset of the Vanderbilt University Medical Center biorepository known as EAGLE BioVU (n15,863). After processing, we show that the distribution of BMI from EAGLE BioVU closely matches population-based estimates from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys (NHANES), and that our approach retains far more data points than traditional outlier detection methods.

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Will Bush

William S. Bush, Ph.D., is a human geneticist and bioinformatician, and Assistant Professor within the Cleveland Institute for Computational Biology and the Department of Population and Quantitative Health Sciences at Case Western Reserve University.