Open Access Research article

"Summary Page": a novel tool that reduces omitted data in research databases

Saveli I Goldberg1*, Andrzej Niemierko14, Maria Shubina2 and Alexander Turchin234

Author Affiliations

1 Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA, USA

2 Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, MA, USA

3 Clinical Informatics Research and Development, Partners HealthCare, Boston, MA, USA

4 Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA

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BMC Medical Research Methodology 2010, 10:91  doi:10.1186/1471-2288-10-91

Published: 8 October 2010



Data entry errors are common in clinical research databases. Omitted data are of particular concern because they are more common than erroneously inserted data and therefore could potentially affect research findings. However, few affordable strategies for their prevention are available.


We have conducted a prospective observational study of the effect of a novel tool called "Summary Page" on the frequency of correction of omitted data errors in a radiation oncology research database between July 2008 and March 2009. "Summary Page" was implemented as an optionally accessed screen in the database that visually integrates key fields in the record. We assessed the frequency of omitted data on the example of the Date of Relapse field. We considered the data in this field to be omitted for all records that had empty Date of Relapse field and evidence of relapse elsewhere in the record.


A total of 1,156 records were updated and 200 new records were entered in the database over the study period. "Summary Page" was accessed for 44% of all updated records and for 69% of newly entered records. Frequency of correction of the omitted date of cancer relapse was six-fold higher in records for which "Summary Page" was accessed (p = 0.0003).


"Summary Page" was strongly associated with an increased frequency of correction of omitted data errors. Further, controlled, studies are needed to confirm this finding and elucidate its mechanism of action.