Ensuring confidentiality and safety of cancer registry data in Kumasi, Ghana

How to Cite

Laryea, D. O., & Awittor, F. K. (2017). Ensuring confidentiality and safety of cancer registry data in Kumasi, Ghana. Online Journal of Public Health Informatics, 9(1). https://doi.org/10.5210/ojphi.v9i1.7714


ObjectiveTo discuss the implementation of confidentiality practices at theKumasi Cancer Registry.IntroductionCancer registration involves collecting information on patientswith cancer. Population-based cancer registries in particular areuseful in estimating the disease burden and to inform the institutionof prevention and control measures. Collecting personal informationon patients with cancer requires strict adherence to principles ofconfidentiality to ensure the safety of the collected data. Failure mayhave legal and medical implications. The Kumasi Cancer Registrywas established as a population-based cancer Registry in 2012. Theregistry collects data on cases of cancer occurring among residentsof the Kumasi Metropolitan area of Ghana. Issues bordering onconfidentiality were an integral part of the establishment of theregistry. We discuss the implementation of confidentiality plansduring the four years of existence of the Kumasi Cancer Registry.MethodsThe registry has a designed abstraction form which is used to collectdata. Data sources for the Registry are all major hospitals in Kumasiproviding cancer treatment services. Data sources also include privatepathology laboratories and the Births and Deaths Registry. Trainedresearch assistants collect data from the folders of patients. This isfollowed by coding and then entering into the Canreg 5 software.Coded and entered into the Canreg5 software for management andanalysis. After data entry, the forms are filed in order of registrynumbers as generated by the canreg5 software for easy reference.ResultsConfidentiality of KsCR data is ensured through the followingmeasures. The signing of a confidentiality agreement by all registrystaff. The confidentiality agreement spells out terms for the releaseof data to third parties in particular but even staff of the variousfacilities. The agreement also spells out the consequences of a breachof any of the clauses. No direct contact is made with patients duringthe process of abstraction of data by registrars. The data abstractionforms are kept in a secured safe in the registry office. The computersthat house the registry data are password enabled and are changedon a regular basis to ensure security. The Canreg5 software usedfor electronic data management also has individual profiles withpasswords for all registrars and supervisors. The scope of accessto Canreg data is limited by the profile status of the respectivestaff members. Supervisors have full access to all data includingsummarized reports. Registrars have limited access mostly restrictedto data entry. Access to the registry office is restricted to registry staffand other personnel authorized by the Registry Manager or Director.An established Registry Advisory Board is responsible for assessingrequests and approval of data from the registry. Where files have tobe sent electronically, they are password protected and sent in severalparts in separate emails.ConclusionsDespite the potential challenges to maintaining confidentialityof data in developing outcries, evidence from four years of cancerdata management in Kumasi suggests stringent measure can ensureconfidentiality. The use of multiple measures to ensure confidentialityis essential in surveillance data management
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