Predicting asthma-related crisis events using routine electronic healthcare data: A quantitative database analysis study

Michael Noble, Annie Burden, Susan Stirling, Allan B. Clark, Stanley Musgrave, Mohammad A. Alsallakh, David Price, Gwyneth A. Davies, Hilary Pinnock, Martin Pond, Aziz Sheikh, Erika J. Sims, Samantha Walker, Andrew M. Wilson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Background: There is no published algorithm predicting asthma crisis events (accident and emergency [A&E] attendance, hospitalisation, or death) using routinely available electronic health record (EHR) data. 

Aim: To develop an algorithm to identify individuals at high risk of an asthma crisis event. Design and setting Database analysis from primary care EHRs of people with asthma across England and Scotland. 

Method: Multivariable logistic regression was applied to a dataset of 61 861 people with asthma from England and Scotland using the Clinical Practice Research Datalink. External validation was performed using the Secure Anonymised Information Linkage Databank of 174 240 patients from Wales. Outcomes were ≥1 hospitalisation (development dataset) and asthma-related hospitalisation, A&E attendance, or death (validation dataset) within a 12-month period. 

Results: Risk factors for asthma-related crisis events included previous hospitalisation, older age, underweight, smoking, and blood eosinophilia. The prediction algorithm had acceptable predictive ability with a receiver operating characteristic of 0.71 (95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.70 to 0.72) in the validation dataset. Using a cut-point based on the 7% of the population at greatest risk results in a positive predictive value of 5.7% (95% CI = 5.3% to 6.1%) and a negative predictive value of 98.9% (95% CI = 98.9% to 99.0%), with sensitivity of 28.5% (95% CI = 26.7% to 30.3%) and specificity of 93.3% (95% CI = 93.2% to 93.4%); those individuals had an event risk of 6.0% compared with 1.1% for the remaining population. In total, 18 people would need to be followed to identify one admission. 

Conclusion: This externally validated algorithm has acceptable predictive ability for identifying patients at high risk of asthma-related crisis events and excluding those not at high risk.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e948-e957
Number of pages10
JournalBritish Journal of General Practice
Issue number713
Early online date15 Jun 2021
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021


  • Algorithms
  • Asthma
  • Asthma attack
  • General practice
  • Prediction
  • Risk

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