Reliability and validity assessment of administrative databases in measuring the quality of rectal cancer management

Lombardy Oncologic Network Work Group

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


PURPOSE: Measurement and monitoring of the quality of care using a core set of quality measures are increasing in health service research. Although administrative databases include limited clinical data, they offer an attractive source for quality measurement. The purpose of this study, therefore, was to evaluate the completeness of different administrative data sources compared to a clinical survey in evaluating rectal cancer cases.

METHODS: Between May 2012 and November 2014, a clinical survey was done on 498 Lombardy patients who had rectal cancer and underwent surgical resection. These collected data were compared with the information extracted from administrative sources including Hospital Discharge Dataset, drug database, daycare activity data, fee-exemption database, and regional screening program database. The agreement evaluation was performed using a set of 12 quality indicators.

RESULTS: Patient complexity was a difficult indicator to measure for lack of clinical data. Preoperative staging was another suboptimal indicator due to the frequent missing administrative registration of tests performed. The agreement between the 2 data sources regarding chemoradiotherapy treatments was high. Screening detection, minimally invasive techniques, length of stay, and unpreventable readmissions were detected as reliable quality indicators. Postoperative morbidity could be a useful indicator but its agreement was lower, as expected.

CONCLUSIONS: Healthcare administrative databases are large and real-time collected repositories of data useful in measuring quality in a healthcare system. Our investigation reveals that the reliability of indicators varies between them. Ideally, a combination of data from both sources could be used in order to improve usefulness of less reliable indicators.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)51-59
Number of pages9
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2018


  • Administrative databases
  • Healthcare monitoring
  • Healthcare quality
  • Rectal cancer
  • Surgery quality indicators

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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