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Table 3 Challenges of routine data: An example from maternal mental health data

From: Integrating research and system-wide practice in public health: lessons learnt from Better Start Bradford

National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (guidelines [1] recommend that the Whooley questions [2] are completed to assess maternal mental health and a full mood assessment completed if the woman answers positively. In the health data system in Bradford we discovered that the code for Whooley questions is present if the questions were asked, but it doesn’t record the response to the questions. This is very challenging for evaluations because we can only assume the outcome of the assessment by subsequent actions, e.g. if no other action was taken we assume a negative response to Whooley, but this might not be the case.
We are working with the systems provider and NHS Trust data specialists to amend the Whooley data fields to enable the actual response to the questions to be captured. Early access and exploration of routine data is advisable to ensure that any data capture issues are identified and addressed.
1. National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence. NICE guidelines [CG192]: antenatal and postnatal mental health: clinical management and service guidance. NICE, 2014. http://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/cg192/chapter/1-recommendations#recognising-mental-health-problems-in-pregnancy-and-the-postnatal-period-and-referral-2 . Accessed 22nd March 2018
2. Whooley M, Avins A, Miranda J, et al. Case-finding instruments for depression. Two questions are as good as many. J Gen Intern Med 1997;12.