Objective: Routinely collected health data, collected for administrative and clinical purposes, without specific a priori research questions, are increasingly used for observational, comparative effectiveness, health services research, and clinical trials. The rapid evolution and availability of routinely collected data for research has brought to light specific issues not addressed by existing reporting guidelines. The aim of the present project was to determine the priorities of stakeholders in order to guide the development of the REporting of studies Conducted using Observational Routinely-collected health Data (RECORD) statement.
Methods: Two modified electronic Delphi surveys were sent to stakeholders. The first determined themes deemed important to include in the RECORD statement, and was analyzed using qualitative methods. The second determined quantitative prioritization of the themes based on categorization of manuscript headings. The surveys were followed by a meeting of RECORD working committee, and re-engagement with stakeholders via an online commentary period.
Results: The qualitative survey (76 responses of 123 surveys sent) generated 10 overarching themes and 13 themes derived from existing STROBE categories. Highest-rated overall items for inclusion were: Disease/exposure identification algorithms; Characteristics of the population included in databases; and Characteristics of the data. In the quantitative survey (71 responses of 135 sent), the importance assigned to each of the compiled themes varied depending on the manuscript section to which they were assigned. Following the working committee meeting, online ranking by stakeholders provided feedback and resulted in revision of the final checklist.
Conclusions: The RECORD statement incorporated the suggestions provided by a large, diverse group of stakeholders to create a reporting checklist specific to observational research using routinely collected health data. Our findings point to unique aspects of studies conducted with routinely collected health data and the perceived need for better reporting of methodological issues.