Investigating equine disease using multicentre electronic medical record analysis


Norman Hayward Fund



Research Period


Area of study



Investigator(s):  John F Marshall

This study sought to provide evidence to support and explain known relationships between laminitis and other diseases such as colic, endocrine and gastrointestinal conditions which have significant impact on horse health and welfare. It was anticipated that analysis of a multicentre electronic medical record database (EMR) will accurately determine the prevalence of significant diseases of horses, and lead to the discovery of novel, useful information to aid disease prevention and treatment. It would provide robust evidence on which to base future guidelines for horse owners and vets to reduce the impact of disease.

The team discovered that, as UK horses are ageing, the number of them suffering from multiple long-term diseases is going up also. This mirrors the concerns in the human medical field surrounding how best to deal with an older population with more complex medical needs. Identifying the significant trend towards an ageing horse population has never previously been analysed with this level of certainty.

In human medicine, researchers have had access to huge databases of patient information for decades, enabling them to uncover important health trends that would not have been possible with smaller data sets. This study represents the first large-scale analysis of horse health in the UK, having amalgamated thousands of records of episodes of care into a single 'big-data' resource.  This is the first study published using these data, and the methods used to analyse horse lifespan have never before been applied to animal data.  The combination of this new data resource and their cutting-edge epidemiology methods mean that they have produced UK horse health and longevity statistics of unparalleled accuracy.

In July 2016 John Marshall and his team at Glasgow published the paper "Prevalence, survival analysis and multimorbidity of chronic diseases in the general veterinarian-attended horse population of the UK"


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