Hospital tumor registries may permit efficient identification of relatively large numbers of patients for clinical and health services research. This study investigates the feasibility and cost of using hospital tumor registry data for identifying cancer patients with particular clinical characteristics, corresponding to the protocol entry criteria of four randomly sampled Phase III clinical treatment trials for cancer. The authors screened tumor registry data on 717 patients diagnosed with cancer in 1997 and 1998 who had been identified and abstracted by the registry of a large academic medical center by April, 1999; and they abstracted the medical records of the 122 patients who passed the registry screen. For each clinical profile, the registry screen eliminated a substantial fraction of patients who did not meet the relevant criteria. Of the patients identified from the tumor registry as potential matches, 41% matched the relevant clinical profile based on detailed medical records review. The cost and effort of the registry-based method were substantially lower than would have been necessary if the authors had reviewed medical records without the registry screen, suggesting that tumor registry data can be a relatively efficient tool for identifying research subjects.
Reprinted with permission from Health Services and Outcomes Research Methodology, Vol. 2, No. 1, March 2001, pp. 67-76. Copyright © 2001 Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers.