University of Gothenburg

Register epidemiology

How can we improve our understanding of diseases and their spread in a population? What are the risk factors for a specific disease and how can risk factors change? Sweden’s personal identity numbers have made it possible to create registers based on huge quantities of data. Register epidemiology is about how to use registers more efficiently and intelligently.

In epidemiology, researchers use observational, non-experimental methods to study the prevalence of disease, or other health-related conditions, in populations or groups. In Sweden, the system of personal ID numbering has enabled collection of immense amounts of information in various registers. Register epidemiology is partly about ensuring that registers are used more frequently and efficiently. The ultimate goal of improving registry research and using registry data is to benefit health care.

Research in register epidemiology is interdisciplinary. Working together in our analysis groups are statisticians, clinicians (such as doctors), people with methodological knowhow and those with knowledge of project management

Our research areas

Setting-up of the research group for register epidemiology at the Institute of Medicine began in 2020. Our researchers network actively with those who conduct register-based research in diverse parts of the University of Gothenburg, Sahlgrenska University Hospital and the West Götaland region.

Our research group has begun establishing studies in the following areas:

  • respiratory diseases
  • cardiovascular disease
  • type 1 and type 2 diabetes
  • osteoarthritis and joint surgery
  • COVID-19.

Research methods

In register epidemiology, we also investigate scientific methods to improve the quality of methodology, design and analysis of register data. With high-quality registry research, we hope to be able to promote:

  • better knowledge of diseases, disease mechanisms, risk factors, disease progression and treatment, and current prevalence and characteristics of diseases in the population
  • quality assurance of care and, by extension, better and more equal care
  • more widespread knowledge that health-care procedures are based on science — which, in turn, can help to enhance people’s trust and confidence in care providers
  • development of register and health-care data, which can further improve the knowledge base for health care in the future.

About public registers in Sweden

In Sweden, there are many public registers of great value, managed by various authorities. They include:

  • the National Patient Register, Swedish Prescribed Drug Register, Swedish Cancer Register and Swedish Cause of Death Register
  • registers of the total population’s composition (including births and deaths) and of work, income and education
  • local health databases derived from the health services’ medical records on the various regions’ inhabitants
  • the Swedish National Airway Register (SNAR), Swedish National Diabetes Register (NDR), Swedish Hip Arthroplasty Register, Swedish Intensive Care Register, Swedish Heart Registry SWEDEHEART and National Breast Cancer Register (NBCR) — these being some of the more than 100 national quality registers containing information, from the health services and participating patients, about treatment of various diseases.


Close connection between research and education

There is close cooperation between the Institute’s research and our education and training, in which many of our researchers too are involved. They supervise doctoral students and teach on our regular programmes, freestanding courses and vocational care programmes within Sahlgrenska Academy.

Read more about our education

SCIFI-PEAR (Swedish Investigation for Future Insights - a a Population Epidemiology Approach using Register Linkage)

SCIFI-PEARL is a nationwide linked multi-register, regularly updated, observational study for timely response to urgent scientific questions regarding SARS-Cov-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2) and the COVID-19 (Coronavirus disease 2019) pandemic.