United States Administrative Databases and Cancer Registries for Thoracic Surgery Health Services Research

Ann Thorac Surg. 2020 Mar;109(3):636-644. doi: 10.1016/j.athoracsur.2019.08.067. Epub 2019 Sep 30.


Background: Data from administrative claims and cancer registries have an ever-expanding role in thoracic surgery health services and health policy research. However, their strengths, limitations, and appropriate applications are often poorly understood, leading to errors in study design and data interpretation. The intent of this review is to discuss relevant and crucial considerations when conducting research with some of the most common national thoracic surgery data sources.

Methods: Information on the National Cancer Database; National Inpatient Sample; American College of Surgeons National Surgical Quality Improvement Project; Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) Database; SEER-linked databases; The Society of Thoracic Surgery General Thoracic Surgery Database; and state cancer registries were obtained from the official webpages for these databases and from a review of PubMed (1990 to July 1, 2019).

Results: We provided a review of the above-mentioned commonly used administrative databases and cancer registries in thoracic surgery health services research, with particular attention toward their strengths and limitations.

Conclusions: An appreciation of the strengths, limitations, and differences between various sources of data from administrative, hospital-based, and population-based cancer registries is equally essential for investigators to improve the quality and accuracy of their research and for readers to properly interpret the results of such studies.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Databases, Factual*
  • Health Services Research*
  • Humans
  • Registries*
  • SEER Program*
  • Thoracic Surgery
  • Thoracic Surgical Procedures* / statistics & numerical data
  • United States