Open Access Open Badges Research article

Patient-centered, comparative effectiveness of esophageal cancer screening: protocol for a comparative effectiveness research study to inform guidelines for evidence-based approach to screening and surveillance endoscopy

Jennifer R Kramer12, Jennifer Arney124, John Chen12, Peter Richardson12, Zhigang Duan12, Richard L Street13, Marilyn Hinojosa-Lindsey12, Aanand D Naik12 and Hashem B El-Serag12*

  • * Corresponding author: Hashem B El-Serag

  • † Equal contributors

Author affiliations

1 Houston VA HSR&D Center of Excellence, Michael E. DeBakey Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Houston, TX, USA

2 Department of Medicine, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas, USA

3 Department of Communications, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX, USA

4 Department of Sociology, University of Houston-Clear Lake

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Citation and License

BMC Health Services Research 2012, 12:288  doi:10.1186/1472-6963-12-288

Published: 28 August 2012



The comparative effectiveness (CE) of endoscopic screening (versus no screening) for Barrett’s esophagus (BE) in patients with GERD symptoms, or among different endoscopic surveillance strategies in patients with BE, for the early detection of esophageal adenocarcinoma (EA) is unknown. Furthermore, it is unclear if patients or providers have or will adopt any of these strategies (screening only, screening and surveillance, vs. none), irrespective of their effectiveness. Endoscopic screening and surveillance is expensive and can be risky. Therefore, it is imperative to establish the CE and acceptability about the risks and outcomes related to these practices to better inform expert recommendations and provider-patient decisions.


We propose a mixed methods study which will involve: (1) an analysis of secondary databases (VA and VA-Medicare linked datasets for 2004–09) to examine CE of endoscopic screening and surveillance in an observational study cohort (an estimated 680,000 patients with GERD; 25,000–30,000 with BE; and 3,000 with EA); (2) a structured electronic medical record (EMR) review on a national sample of patients using VA EMRs to verify all EA cases, identify cancer stage, cancer-targeted therapy, and validate the screening and surveillance endoscopy; and (3) qualitative in depth interviews with patients and providers to elicit preferences, norms, and behaviors to explain clinical contexts of these findings and address gaps arising from the CE study.


This study will compare clinical strategies for detecting and monitoring BE, a pre-cancerous lesion. Additionally, by eliciting acceptability of these strategies for patients and providers, we will be able to propose effective and feasible strategies that are likely to be implemented in routine use. Findings will inform recommendations for clinical practice guidelines. Our innovative approach is consistent with the methodological standards of patient-centered outcomes research, and our findings will offer a significant contribution to the literature on cancer surveillance.

Trial Registration

Not applicable

Barrett’s esophagus; Endoscopy; Mixed methods research; Comparative effectiveness research