The Charlson Comorbidity Index in Registry-based ResearchWhich Version to Use?
17 May 2017
accepted in revised form: 28 August 2017
24 January 2018 (online)
Background: Comorbidities may have an important impact on survival, and comorbidity scores are often implemented in studies assessing prognosis. The Charlson Comorbidity index is most widely used, yet several adaptations have been published, all using slightly different conversions of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD) coding.
Objective: To evaluate which coding should be used to assess and quantify comorbidity for the Charlson Comorbidity Index for registry-based research, in particular if older ICD versions will be used.
Methods: A systematic literature search was used to identify adaptations and modifications of the ICD-coding of the Charlson Comorbidity Index for general purpose in adults, published in English. Back-translation to ICD version 8 and version 9 was conducted by means of the ICD-code converter of Statistics Sweden.
Results: In total, 16 studies were identified reporting ICD-adaptations of the Charlson Comorbidity Index. The Royal College of Surgeons in the United Kingdom combined 5 versions into an adapted and updated version which appeared appropriate for research purposes. Their ICD-10 codes were back-translated into ICD-9 and ICD-8 according to their proposed adaptations, and verified with previous versions of the Charlson Comorbidity Index.
Conclusion: Many versions of the Charlson Comorbidity Index are used in parallel, so clear reporting of the version, exact ICD- coding and weighting is necessary to obtain transparency and reproducibility in research. Yet, the version of the Royal College of Surgeons is up-to-date and easy-to-use, and therefore an acceptable co-morbidity score to be used in registry-based research especially for surgical patients.
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