Purpose of reviewClinical registries, routinely collected administrative data and electronic medical records (EMRs) provide new opportunities to investigate medication safety and effectiveness. This review outlines the strengths and limitations of these data, and highlights recent research related to safe and effective medication use in dementia.Recent findingsClinical registries, administrative data and EMRs facilitate observational research among people often excluded from randomized controlled trials (RCTs). Larger sample sizes and longer follow-up times permit research into less common adverse events not apparent in RCTs. The validity of diagnoses recorded in administrative data and EMRs remains variable, although positive predictive values are typically high and sensitivity is low. Dispensing records are a rich source of data for estimating medication exposure. Recent research has investigated medications and prescribing patterns as risk factors for incident dementia, strategies to alleviate behavioural symptoms and the management of comorbidity. Common study protocols and common data models are examples of distributed network approaches increasingly used to conduct large and generalizable multi-database studies across different countries.SummaryGreater availability of electronic health data provides important opportunities to address evidence-practice gaps in relation to medication use and safety in people with dementia.
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