Combining self-reported and objectively measured survey data to improve hypertension prevalence estimates: Portuguese experience

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Background: Accurate data on hypertension is essential to inform decision-making. Hypertension prevalence may be underestimated by population-based surveys due to misclassification of health status by participants. Therefore, adjustment for misclassification bias is required when relying on self-reports. This study aims to quantify misclassification bias in self-reported hypertension prevalence and prevalence ratios in the Portuguese component of the European Health Interview Survey (INS2014), and illustrate application of multiple imputation (MIME) for bias correction using measured high blood pressure data from the first Portuguese health examination survey (INSEF). Methods: We assumed that objectively measured hypertension status was missing for INS2014 participants (n = 13,937) and imputed it using INSEF (n = 4910) as auxiliary data. Self-reported, objectively measured and MIME-corrected hypertension prevalence and prevalence ratios (PR) by sex, age group and education were estimated. Bias in self-reported and MIME-corrected estimates were computed using objectively measured INSEF data as a gold-standard. Results: Self-reported INS2014 data underestimated hypertension prevalence in all population subgroups, with misclassification bias ranging from 5.2 to 18.6 percentage points (pp). After MIME-correction, prevalence estimates increased and became closer to objectively measured ones, with bias reduction to 0 pp - 5.7 pp. Compared to objectively measured INSEF, self-reported INS2014 data considerably underestimated prevalence ratio by sex (PR = 0.8, 95CI = [0.7, 0.9] vs. PR = 1.2, 95CI = [1.1, 1.4]). MIME successfully corrected direction of association with sex in bivariate (PR = 1.1, 95CI = [1.0, 1.3]) and multivariate analyses (PR = 1.2, 95CI = [1.0, 1.3]). Misclassification bias in hypertension prevalence ratios by education and age group were less pronounced and did not require correction in multivariate analyses. Conclusions: Our results highlight the importance of misclassification bias analysis in self-reported hypertension. Multiple imputation is a feasible approach to adjust for misclassification bias in prevalence estimates and exposure-outcomes associations in survey data.

Original languageEnglish
Article number45
JournalArchives of Public Health
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021


  • Bias correction
  • Hypertension
  • MIME
  • Misclassification error
  • Multiple imputation
  • Self-reports
  • Survey


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