Use of comparative data for integrated cancer services.
Wilkinson DL., McCarthy M.
BACKGROUND: Comparative data are an important resource for management of integrated care. In 2001, the English Department of Health created 34 cancer networks, broadly serving populations of half to three million people, to coordinate cancer services across providers. We have investigated how national and regional routine data are used by the cancer network management teams. METHODS: Telephone interviews using a standardised semi-structured questionnaire were conducted with 68 participants in 29 cancer network teams. Replies were analysed both quantitatively and qualitatively. RESULTS: While most network teams had a formal information strategy, data were used ad hoc more than regularly, and were not thought to be as influential in network decision making as other sources of information. Data collection was more prominent in information strategies than data use. Perceptions of data usefulness were mixed and there were worries over data quality, relevance, and potential misuse. Participants were receptive to the idea of a new limited dataset collating comparative data from currently available routine data sources. Few network structural factors were associated with data use, perceptions of current data, or receptivity to a new dataset. CONCLUSION: Comparative data are underused for managing integrated cancer services in England. Managers would welcome more comparative data, but also desired data to be relevant, quality assured and contextualised, and for the teams to be better resourced for data use.