The value of structured data elements from electronic health records for identifying subjects for primary care clinical trials Healthcare Information Systems

Mohammad B. Ateya, Brendan C. Delaney, Stuart M. Speedie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Background: An increasing number of clinical trials are conducted in primary care settings. Making better use of existing data in the electronic health records to identify eligible subjects can improve efficiency of such studies. Our study aims to quantify the proportion of eligibility criteria that can be addressed with data in electronic health records and to compare the content of eligibility criteria in primary care with previous work. Methods: Eligibility criteria were extracted from primary care studies downloaded from the UK Clinical Research Network Study Portfolio. Criteria were broken into elemental statements. Two expert independent raters classified each statement based on whether or not structured data items in the electronic health record can be used to determine if the statement was true for a specific patient. Disagreements in classification were discussed until 100 % agreement was reached. Statements were also classified based on content and the percentages of each category were compared to two similar studies reported in the literature. Results: Eligibility criteria were retrieved from 228 studies and decomposed into 2619 criteria elemental statements. 74 % of the criteria elemental statements were considered likely associated with structured data in an electronic health record. 79 % of the studies had at least 60 % of their criteria statements addressable with structured data likely to be present in an electronic health record. Based on clinical content, most frequent categories were: "disease, symptom, and sign", "therapy or surgery", and "medication" (36 %, 13 %, and 10 % of total criteria statements respectively). We also identified new criteria categories related to provider and caregiver attributes (2.6 % and 1 % of total criteria statements respectively). Conclusions: Electronic health records readily contain much of the data needed to assess patients' eligibility for clinical trials enrollment. Eligibility criteria content categories identified by our study can be incorporated as data elements in electronic health records to facilitate their integration with clinical trial management systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1
JournalBMC medical informatics and decision making
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 11 2016

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
A set of primary care study descriptions including eligibility criteria were extracted from the publicly available UK Clinical Research Network (UKCRN) Study Portfolio website in 2011. The UKCRN Study Portfolio is a database of high-quality studies eligible for consideration for support from the UK National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Clinical Research Network. The UKCRN Study Portfolio defines primary care as the “care that describes range of services that are normally the first point of contact for participants” [25]. All studies classified as primary care related were identified and eligibility criteria descriptions including both inclusion and exclusion criteria were extracted from those studies. Studies added to the UKCRN Study Portfolio website after 2011 were not added to our data set since the number of studies was deemed sufficient for the research objectives.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 Ateya et al.


  • Electronic health records
  • Eligibility criteria
  • Primary care research
  • Structured data


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