Information for researchers

Are you as a researcher interested in reliable and routinely collected healthcare data from general practitioners? Or would you like to use the healthcare data of the patient population of the northeast part of the Netherlands for your research? Please contact AHON for a unique dataset from the AHON-database.

Klik hier voor informatie voor onderzoekers in het Nederlands

The Academic General Practitioner Development Network (AHON) is part of the Department of Primary- and Long-term Care of the University Medical Center Groningen (UMCG). Within AHON general practitioners and researchers work together to improve general practitioner care in our region and beyond. As of July 2022, the AHON-database comprised data of more than 460 795 patients from 73 affiliated registration practices. The database still grows every year. Electronic healthcare data are provided for up to 5 years retrospectively from when a registration practice is connected, and subsequently, the most recent data are added each quarter. Researchers can use the database for both cross sectional and longitudinal research.

The following research projects have, among others, used a dataset from the AHON database:

  • Policy for managing children with chronic abdominal pain in general practice.
  • Primary care management of patients with pelvic floor complaints.
  • Unwanted pregnancy in general practice.
  • Preventive cardiovascular medication in (vulnerable) elderly people in general practice.
  • Trends in child and adolescent referral by GPs to medical specialists.

Below we have answered the most frequently asked questions for you. Do you have another question or would you like to request a dataset? Please contact [email protected].

  • Relevant patient care data registered by general practitioners (GPs) in their Health Information System (HIS) are included in the AHON database. Sensitive information is pseudonymized and can’t be traced back to individual patients. The following details are available in our database:

    • Morbidity, including presenting complaints, symptoms and diagnoses, encoded using International Classification of Primary Care (ICPC) codes;
    • Medication prescriptions, encoded according to the Anatomical Therapeutic Chemical (ATC) classification;
    • Referrals;
    • Medical investigations, including diagnostic, biometric and laboratory results.
  • Any researcher can request a dataset for scientific research with the intention of publication in a national or international journal. Direct applications from pharmaceutical or other industry will not be considered.

    • Research using solely registration data does not, in principle, require ethical approval according to the Medical Research Involving Human Subjects Act (WMO);
    • Before submitting an application, we advise that you ensure the information included by GPs in a HIS is suitable for your research;
    • A fee payable to cover administration and ongoing charges. Please contact us at [email protected] to request an indication of the costs.
  • You can request an application form for a dataset via [email protected]. In this form, you will be asked to give a brief description of key aspects of the study, such as the planned research question, the proposed methodology, and the dataset required. We request that you send relevant supporting information as attachments.

    For support, please contact Feikje Groenhof, AHON-database coordinator: +316 25 64 71 45 or [email protected].

    1. You apply to the AHON-committee for approval to receive a dataset from the AHON database. A decision will be made within two months after application.
    2. If the application is approved, a dataset will be created for the researcher under the supervision of the AHON-database coordinator.
    3. The researcher signs a Data Processing Agreement and a non-disclosure Agreement, in addition a quote is given for the cost of the dataset.
    4. At all times, datasets generated from the AHON-database will remain in the Department of Primary- and Long-term Care of the UMCG. Access to the research dataset will be provided within a secure virtual research workspace.
  • The Committee is composed of representatives from affiliated registration practices and from the UMCG Department of Primary- and Long-term Care. The goal of the AHON-committee is to promote high quality research in general practice. This is achieved by assessing research applications for relevance, feasibility, workload, quality, and methodology. In this way, the committee represents the interests of GPs in the AHON.

  • We can link datasets when additional data are needed for an investigation. The new data won’t be included in the AHON Database. ZorgTTP acts as Trusted Third Party for all data linkage in these instances. Please note that the linking of datasets involves additional time and costs.

  • The infrastructure of the AHON-database was developed in collaboration with the GP registration networks of the University Medical Centers (UMC) in Utrecht, Amsterdam, and Maastricht. The primary care departments at these UMCs use the same data model and have entered a partnership called the Intercity Network to facilitate joint research. AHON datasets can thereby be scaled nationally to withhold healthcare data of approximately one million patients if a study needs to include data from other parts of the Netherlands.

I have another question!

Please contact [email protected] or feel free to reach out to:

Nynke Schouwenaars

Feikje Groenhof