What are the barriers to conducting international research using routinely collected primary care data?

Stud Health Technol Inform. 2011;165:135-40.


Background: Primary care is computerized with routine data recorded at the point or care. Secondary use of these data includes: genetic study, epidemiology and clinical trials. However, there are relatively few international studies.

Objective: To identify the concepts that might predict readiness to collaborate in international research using routinely collected primary care data

Method: Literature review and data gathering exercise, from international Primary Care Informatics working group workshops, and email modified Delphi exercise.

Results: To establish whether primary care data are fit for use in a collaborative study information is needed at the micro-, meso-, and macro-level. At the micro- or data level we need to use documented standards for interoperability, computerized records, to facilitate linkage of data. At the meso-level we need to understand the nature of the electronic patient record (EPR) and specific study requirements. At the macro-level: health system, social and cultural context constrain what data are available. The framework defines the information needed at the point of expression of interest, and joining a study. The initial assessment of readiness should be by self-assessment followed by an in depth appraisal more immediately prior to the start of the study. Finally, a sensitivity analysis should be conducted to test the robustness of the data model.

Conclusions: The literature focuses on technical issues: interoperability, EPR and modeling; the workshops on socio-cultural and organizational. This framework will form the basis for developing a survey instrument of the initial assessment of readiness for collaboration in international research.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Data Collection / methods
  • Data Collection / statistics & numerical data
  • Delphi Technique
  • Education
  • Electronic Health Records
  • Humans
  • Internationality*
  • Primary Health Care*