Background: The management of genitourinary malignancies requires a multidisciplinary care team composed of urologists, medical oncologists, and radiation oncologists. A genitourinary (GU) oncology clinical database is an invaluable resource for patient care and research. Although electronic medical records provide a single web-based record used for clinical care, billing, and scheduling, information is typically stored in a discipline-specific manner and data extraction is often not applicable to a research setting. A GU oncology database may be used for the development of multidisciplinary treatment plans, analysis of disease-specific practice patterns, and identification of patients for research studies. Despite the potential utility, there are many important considerations that must be addressed when developing and implementing a discipline-specific database.
Methods and materials: The creation of the GU oncology database including prostate, bladder, and kidney cancers with the identification of necessary variables was facilitated by meetings of stakeholders in medical oncology, urology, and radiation oncology at the University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill with a template data dictionary provided by the Department of Urologic Surgery at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. Utilizing Research Electronic Data Capture (REDCap, version 4.14.5), the UNC Genitourinary OncoLogy Database (UNC GOLD) was designed and implemented.
Results: The process of designing and implementing a discipline-specific clinical database requires many important considerations. The primary consideration is determining the relationship between the database and the Institutional Review Board (IRB) given the potential applications for both clinical and research uses. Several other necessary steps include ensuring information technology security and federal regulation compliance; determination of a core complete dataset; creation of standard operating procedures; standardizing entry of free text fields; use of data exports, queries, and de-identification strategies; inclusion of individual investigators' data; and strategies for prioritizing specific projects and data entry.
Conclusions: A discipline-specific database requires a buy-in from all stakeholders, meticulous development, and data entry resources to generate a unique platform for housing information that may be used for clinical care and research with IRB approval. The steps and issues identified in the development of UNC GOLD provide a process map for others interested in developing a GU oncology database.
Keywords: Clinical database; Genitourinary oncology; Oncology database; REDCap; Urologic oncology.
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