Cohort study investigating the relationship between cholesterol, cardiovascular risk score and the prescribing of statins in UK primary care: study protocol

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Introduction Risk scoring is an integral part of the prevention of cardiovascular disease (CVD) and should form the basis for the decision to offer medication to reduce cholesterol (statins). However, there is a suggestion in the literature that many patients are still initiated on statins based on raised cholesterol rather than a raised CVD risk. It is important, therefore, to investigate the role that lipid levels and CVD risks have in the decision to prescribe. This research will establish how cholesterol levels and CVD risk independently influence the prescribing of statins for the primary prevention of CVD in primary care.

Methods and analysis The Health Improvement Network (THIN) is a database of coded primary care electronic patient records from over 500 UK general practices. From this resource, a historical cohort will be created of patients without a diagnosis of CVD, not currently receiving a prescription for statins and who had a lipid profile measured. A post hoc QRISK2 score will be calculated for these patients and they will be followed up for 60 days to establish whether they were subsequently prescribed a statin. Primary analysis will consist of predictive modelling using multivariate logistic regression with potential predictors including cholesterol level, calculated QRISK2 score, sociodemographic characteristic and comorbidities. Descriptive statistics will be used to identify trends in prescribing and further secondary analysis will explore what other factors may have influenced the prescribing of statins and the degree of interprescriber variability.

Ethics and dissemination The THIN Data Collection Scheme was approved by the South-East Multicentre Research Ethics Committee in 2003. Individual studies using THIN require Scientific Review Committee approval. The original protocol for this study and a subsequent amendment have been approved (16THIN009A1). The results will be published in a peer review journal and presented at national and international conferences.


Original languageEnglish
Article numbere013120
JournalBMJ open
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2016