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Sharing Data with the Environmental Public Health Tracking Program

Vermont Cancer Registry

Relationships between environmental agents and health effects are difficult to study, partly due to the disparate nature of the data sets involved. The National Environmental Public Health Tracking Program (NEPHTP) will expand the use of special analytic and mapping techniques to explore possible relationships between health and environmental hazards. This will enable more precise identification of health outcomes in communities, or health disparities by race and ethnicity, income, geography, or other factors. Vermont is a new NEPHTP state, and cancer was chosen to be the first data set to populate our state's NEPHTP data warehouse.

This story is more about a process than an outcome. Over the past year, VCR has collaborated with Environmental Health and Information Technology to share cancer data with the NEPHTP.


December 2009: CDC awarded a grant to track environmental health hazards.

January 2010: An NEPHTP collaborator informational meeting was held.

April 2010: The database assessment was completed.

May 2010: Cancer registry data were used to build an initial, partial NEPHTP data warehouse, evaluate the geographic information system (GIS) interface, and develop a user interface for the mapping prototype.

May 2010: The North American Association of Central Cancer Registries (NAACCR) version 11 record layout was used to design cancer tables in the data warehouse.

September 2010: The first prototype of the cancer application was built.

October 2010: A data re-release plan was drafted for the NEPHTP cancer data; access to confidential VCR data was granted to NEPHTP and information technology staff.

October 2010: A software evaluation of visualization tools for the NEPHTP portal was presented to an advisory group.

November 2010: A "flexible toolbox" of NEPHTP portal presentation tools was finalized.

November 2010: The NAACCR version 12 record layout was used to design cancer tables in the data warehouse.

December 2010: A decision was made to populate the data warehouse with aggregate statistics, rather than individual cancer records.

February 2011: A decision was made to focus on required cancer measures in the first phase and continue with Standardized Incidence Ration (SIR) mapping separately.

February 2011: The cancer data warehouse format, cancer data dictionary, and use case were finalized and the data were delivered.

We hope that making cancer data available through the NEPHTP portal will encourage researchers, public health professionals, and the public to assess public health status, define public health priorities, evaluate programs, and stimulate research.

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