Data harmonization for collaborative research among MS registries: A case study in employment

A. Salter, A. Stahmann, D. Ellenberger, F. Fneish, W. J. Rodgers, R. Middleton, R. Nicholas, R. A. Marrie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Objective: To assess the feasibility of collaboration and retrospective data harmonization among three multiple sclerosis (MS) registries by investigating employment status. Methods: We used the Maelstrom guidelines to facilitate retrospective harmonization of data from three MS registries, including the NARCOMS (North American Research Committee on MS) Registry, German MS Register (GMSR), and United Kingdom MS (UK-MS) Register. A protocol was developed based on the guidelines, and summary-level data were used to combine results. Employment status and a limited set of factors associated with employment (age, sex, education, and disability level) were harmonized. A meta-analytic approach was used to pool estimates using a weighted average of logistic regression estimates and their variances in a random effects model. Results: Employment status, age, sex, education, and disability were mapped. The overall employment rate was 57% (11,143 employed out of 19,562 persons with MS) with the GMSR having the highest proportion of participants employed (66.2%), followed by the UK-MS (55.2%) and NARCOMS (43.0%) registries. As disability level increased, the odds of not being employed increased. Conclusion: Harmonization across registries was feasible. The Maelstrom guidelines provide a valuable roadmap for conducting high-quality harmonization projects. The pooling of data sources has the potential to be an important mechanism for conducting research in MS.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)281-289
Number of pages9
JournalMultiple Sclerosis Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2021


  • Multiple sclerosis
  • harmonization
  • registry


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