Scaling up health knowledge at European level requires sharing integrated data: an approach for collection of database specification.
Computerized health care databases have been widely described as an excellent opportunity for research. The availability of "big data" has brought about a wave of innovation in projects when conducting health services research. Most of the available secondary data sources are restricted to the geographical scope of a given country and present heterogeneous structure and content. Under the umbrella of the European Innovation Partnership on Active and Healthy Ageing, collaborative work conducted by the partners of the group on "adherence to prescription and medical plans" identified the use of observational and large-population databases to monitor medication-taking behavior in the elderly. This article describes the methodology used to gather the information from available databases among the Adherence Action Group partners with the aim of improving data sharing on a European level. A total of six databases belonging to three different European countries (Spain, Republic of Ireland, and Italy) were included in the analysis. Preliminary results suggest that there are some similarities. However, these results should be applied in different contexts and European countries, supporting the idea that large European studies should be designed in order to get the most of already available databases.