News Release: Research, School of Public Health

Oct. 22,  2009

Researchers Aim To Strengthen Georgia Cancer Data to Evaluate Care Statewide

News Article ImageJoseph Lipscomb, PhD

Emory University public health researchers have received $372,436 in combined grant support to augment the Georgia state cancer registry for studies to assess the effectiveness and quality of cancer care statewide.

Funding includes a one-year $249,984 grant awarded jointly by the Association of Schools of Public Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and supported through an inter-agency agreement with the National Cancer Institute. The Georgia Cancer Coalition is contributing an additional $122,452 in funding.

The project, titled "Using cancer registry and other data sources to track measures of care in Georgia," will demonstrate how high-quality cancer registry data can be linked to multiple additional sources of information on the diagnosis and treatment of cancer to support a range of studies, says principal investigator Joseph Lipscomb, PhD.

"Such an augmented data system could serve as a platform for research on the comparative effectiveness of alternative interventions," says Lipscomb, professor of health policy and management in Emory's Rollins School of Public Health and a Georgia Cancer Coalition Distinguished Cancer Scholar. "This also could include whether or not patients are receiving guideline-concordant care, the economic burden of cancer or disparities in access to care or outcomes."

The project will focus particularly on whether treatment patterns for breast cancer and colorectal cancer in Georgia during the 1999-2005 period were consistent with nationally recognized recommendations. To accomplish this, the project will link data from the Georgia Comprehensive Cancer Registry (GCCR) with administrative and clinical data drawn from the following sources: Medicare, Medicaid, the Georgia State Health Benefit Plan (which covers all state employees and their dependents), Kaiser Permanente of Georgia, the state hospital discharge survey, data bases describing hospital and physician characteristics that may influence care, and also medical chart reviews when detailed clinical information is required. Cancer registries, including the GCCR, typically include data on the cancer patient's diagnosis, first course of treatment and demographics - but not on details about treatment and health care resource use over time. By linking to the data sources above, the aim is to create an enhanced "longitudinal picture" of the care received by each patient, says Lipscomb.

"There have been multiple published studies in recent years showing the important advantages of linking cancer registry data with Medicare files, Medicaid files or with private insurance claims data," says Lipscomb. "However, this project is the first in the country to carry out these linkages concurrently across an entire state."

In early October, Lipscomb provided an overview of the new project at an Institute of Medicine workshop in Washington on developing an evidence-driven "rapid learning system" for cancer care.

In addition to Lipscomb, the research team includes: Kathleen Adams, PhD (co-principal investigator), professor of Health Policy and Management, Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University; Cathy Bradley, PhD, professor of Health Administration, Virginia Commonwealth University and the Massey Cancer Center, Richmond, Va.; Amy Chen, MD, associate professor of Otolaryngology, Emory School of Medicine; Christopher Flowers, MD, assistant professor of Hematology and Oncology, Emory Winship Cancer Institute; Theresa W. Gillespie, PhD, associate professor of Surgery, Emory School of Medicine, and director of Health Services Research, Atlanta Veterans Affairs Medical Center; David Howard, PhD, associate professor of Health Policy and Management, Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University; Douglas Roblin, PhD., senior health scientist, Kaiser Permanente of Georgia; and Kevin Ward, assistant professor of Epidemiology, Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University, and director, Georgia Center for Cancer Statistics.


The Robert W. Woodruff Health Sciences Center of Emory University is an academic health science and service center focused on missions of teaching, research, health care and public service. Its components include schools of medicine, nursing, and public health; Yerkes National Primate Research Center; the Emory Winship Cancer Institute; and Emory Healthcare, the largest, most comprehensive health system in Georgia. The Woodruff Health Sciences Center has a $2.3 billion budget, 17,000 employees, 2,300 full-time and 1,900 affiliated faculty, 4,300 students and trainees, and a $4.9 billion economic impact on metro Atlanta.

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