Opportunities and challenges when using record linkage of routinely collected electronic health care data to evaluate outcomes of systemic anti-cancer treatment in clinical practice

Tanja Mueller, Jennifer Laskey, Kelly Baillie, Julie Clarke, Christine Crearie, Kimberley Kavanagh, Janet Graham, Kathryn Graham, Ashita Waterston, Robert Jones, Amanj Kurdi, David Morrison, Marion Bennie

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The efficacy and safety of cancer medicines as reported from randomised clinical trials do not always translate into similar benefits in routine clinical practice; hence, post-marketing studies are a useful addition to the evidence base. With recent advances in digital infrastructure and the advent of electronically available health records, linkage of routinely collected data has emerged as a promising evaluation method for these studies. This paper discusses the opportunities and challenges when applying an electronic record linkage methodology with respect to systemic anti-cancer therapy by showcasing exemplar studies conducted over a three-year period in Scotland, and highlights some of the potential pitfalls spanning the entire breadth and depth of the research process. Our experiences as an interdisciplinary team indicate that there is scope to conduct large cohort studies to generate results from routine clinical practice within a reasonable time frame; however, close collaboration between researchers, data controllers, and clinicians is required in order to obtain valid and meaningful results.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-17
Number of pages17
JournalHealth Informatics Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 23 Feb 2022


  • cancer
  • clinical practice
  • record linkage
  • treatment outcomes

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