Databases at health care facilities provide a crude measure of health care uptake and are probably the best resources available. Databases have been used to assess STD prevalence, HIV prevalence and infective endocarditis. However, simply counting the number of individuals who present with a particular illness tends to underestimate the true scope of the problem. Of course, these types of observations are needed in order to launch more rigorous investigations. As existing electronic databases are improved and new ones are implemented, these records become more useful in determining individual and community health service uptake. For example, the province of British Columbia established a centralized database that records all antiretroviral prescriptions. These data have proved invaluable in determining who is accessing therapy for HIV as well as response to treatment (Hogg, et al., 2001).
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