In studies of disease with potential environmental risk factors, residential location is often used as a surrogate for unknown environmental exposures or as a basis for assigning environmental exposures. These studies most typically use the residential location at the time of diagnosis due to ease of collection. However, previous residential locations may be more useful for risk analysis because of population mobility and disease latency. When residential histories have not been collected in a study, it may be possible to generate them through public-record databases. In this study, we evaluated the ability of a public-records database from LexisNexis to provide residential histories for subjects in a geographically diverse cohort study. We calculated 11 performance metrics comparing study-collected addresses and two address retrieval services from LexisNexis. We found 77% and 90% match rates for city and state and 72% and 87% detailed address match rates with the basic and enhanced services, respectively. The enhanced LexisNexis service covered 86% of the time at residential addresses recorded in the study. The mean match rate for detailed address matches varied spatially over states. The results suggest that public record databases can be useful for reconstructing residential histories for subjects in epidemiologic studies.
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