Challenges and Opportunities to Conduct Cancer Care Research in China: Experience from a Pilot Project
Keywords:China, Cancer Care, Health Policy, Research Data
Background: Cancer has become the leading cause of death in China. Effective cancer control and population science research programs are desperately needed in China. The China Medical Board (CMB) funding has provided us with an opportunity to build a research team specializing in cancer care utilization and access research and demonstrate the usefulness of the accrued data. The CMB-funded project will describe patterns of cancer screening, incidence, and treatment in Shandong Province in China and enable the researchers to understand possible causes of disparities in cancer control in China.
Findings: Although CMB projects do not provide salary support for affiliated American faculty, they do provide Chinese scholars in the U.S. an excellent opportunity to help improve health care in China. There are many challenges and opportunities in health care service and utilization research in China. For example, public data for cancer care research does not exist. We had to acquire secondary data from several governmental organizations andreconciled regional variations in data management. After acquiring all the data, we could create the most comprehensive cancer access, utilization, and outcomes research database to date in China and possibly expand this research in Shandong and other provinces. Students and analysts need to be trained to ensure the confidentiality of data linked to personal identifiers of patients and providers. At the same time, users need to learn how to manipulate and analyze large scale, messy, secondary data.
Discussion: We hope that the key findings will identify innovative scientific opportunities to improve cancer control and reduce inequities in communities. We intend to prepare manuscripts and reports in Chinese to disseminate findings to communities, policy makers, health care providers, and the scientific community. From the policy perspective, this study is a demonstration project drawing policy makers’ attention to the importance of comprehensive cancer prevention and control data collection, both for accurate assessment and informed decision making with a high likelihood to effect desired change.
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