Improving Data Collection and Abstraction to Assess Health Equity in Trauma Care

J Med Syst. 2022 Mar 9;46(4):21. doi: 10.1007/s10916-022-01804-4.


Current trauma registries suffer from inconsistent collection of data needed to assess health equity. To identify barriers/facilitators to collecting accurate equity-related data elements, we assessed perspectives of national stakeholders, Emergency Department (ED) registration, and Trauma Registry staff. We conducted a Delphi process with experts in trauma care systems and key informant interviews and focus groups with ED patient registration and trauma registry staff at a regional Level I trauma center. Topics included data collection process, barriers/facilitators for equity-related data collection, electronic health record (EHR) entry, trauma registry abstraction, and strategies to overcome technology limitations. Responses were qualitatively analyzed and triangulated with observations of ED and trauma registry staff workflow. Expert-identified barriers to consistent data collection included lack of staff investment in changes and lack of national standardization of data elements; facilitators were simplicity, quality improvement checks, and stakeholder investment in modifying existing technology to collect equity elements. ED staff reported experiences with patients reacting suspiciously to queries regarding race and ethnicity. Cultural resonance training, a script to explain equity data collection, and allowing patients to self-report sensitive items using technology were identified as potential facilitators. Trauma registry staff reported lack of discrete fields, and a preference for auto-populated and designated EHR fields. Identified barriers and facilitators of collection and abstraction of equity-related data elements from multiple stakeholders provides a framework for improving data collection. Successful implementation will require standardized definitions, staff training, use of existing technology for patient self-report, and discrete fields for added elements.

Keywords: Common data elements; Electronic health record; Health equity; Injury; Trauma registry.

MeSH terms

  • Data Collection
  • Electronic Health Records
  • Health Equity*
  • Humans
  • Registries
  • Trauma Centers