A Representativeness Assessment of Taiwan’s Sentinel Physician Surveillance System

Chia-Luen Tsai

2007 Vol.23 NO.7

Correspondence Author: Chia-Luen Tsai


In order to understand the distribution and the level of representativeness of sentinel physicians (SPs) in Taiwan, this study utilized relevant data extracted from Taiwan CDC’s Sentinel Physician Surveillance System (SPSS) Databank, Ministry of the Interior’s Population Statistics File, and the Outpatient Prescription and Detailed Treatment File from the National Health Insurance (NHI) Program Databank, for the purposes of determining whether our SP population coverage meets the standards set by other developed countries, and whether there is a universal ratio among all counties and cities in Taiwan between the number of visits to the clinics taking part in the SPSS and the number of visits to all outpatient care spots in the area. The level of representativeness of the SP distribution is also evaluated based on a comparison between disease prevalence trends derived from the SPSS data and from data provided by the School-based Communicable Disease Surveillance System (SCDSS). The findings are: each of our SP clinics has an average population coverage of 43 thousand residents, and in comparison with the United States, Canada, France, Italy, Germany, Hong Kong and Japan, our coverage is second only to that of Japan, which has 27 thousand residents sharing one SP on average. The comparison between the SPSS data in the past coupled with related information extracted from NHI files and the SCDSS data shows almost identical disease prevalence trends, which indicates that the information reported through the SPSS possesses a satisfactory level of representativeness. Looking at the overall results of this study, our conclusion is that some minor adjustments in the SP distribution appear necessary for Taipei City, Taipei County. Taichung City, Tainan County, and Pingtung County. These proposed changes would improve their population coverage situation and representativeness level.