Open Access Open Badges Research article

Validation of administrative data sources for endoscopy utilization in colorectal cancer diagnosis

Xue Li1, Robert Hilsden2, Shakhawat Hossain34, John Fleming1 and Marcy Winget13*

Author affiliations

1 Division of Community Oncology, Cancer Care, Alberta Health Services, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

2 Department of Community Health Sciences and Department of Medicine, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

3 Department of Public Health Sciences, School of Public Health, University of Alberta, 1500 Sun Life Place, 10123 99 Street NW, Edmonton, Alberta, T5J 3H1, Canada

4 Present address: Department of Mathematics and Statistics, University of Winnipeg, Winnipeg, Canada

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Citation and License

BMC Health Services Research 2012, 12:358  doi:10.1186/1472-6963-12-358

Published: 13 October 2012



Validation of administrative data is important to assess potential sources of bias in outcome evaluation and to prevent dissemination of misleading or inaccurate information. The purpose of the study was to determine the completeness and accuracy of endoscopy data in several administrative data sources in the year prior to colorectal cancer diagnosis as part of a larger project focused on evaluating the quality of pre-diagnostic care.


Primary and secondary data sources for endoscopy were collected from the Alberta Cancer Registry, cancer medical charts and three different administrative data sources. 1672 randomly sampled patients diagnosed with invasive colorectal cancer in years 2000–2005 in Alberta, Canada were included. A retrospective validation study of administrative data for endoscopy in the year prior to colorectal cancer diagnosis was conducted. A gold standard dataset was created by combining all the datasets. Number and percent identified, agreement and percent unique to a given data source were calculated and compared across each dataset and to the gold standard with respect to identifying all patients who underwent endoscopy and all endoscopies received by those patients.


The combined administrative data and physician billing data identified as high or higher percentage of patients who had one or more endoscopy (84% and 78%, respectively) and total endoscopy procedures (89% and 81%, respectively) than the chart review (78% for both).


Endoscopy data has a high level of completeness and accuracy in physician billing data alone. Combined with hospital in/outpatient data it is more complete than chart review alone.

Colorectal endoscopy; Data validation; Administrative data; Agreement