An emerging body of research involves observational studies in which survival analysis is applied to data obtained from primary care electronic health records (EHRs). This systematic review of these studies examined the utility of using this approach.
An electronic literature search of the Scopus, PubMed, Web of Science, CINAHL, and Cochrane databases was conducted. Search terms and exclusion criteria were chosen to select studies where survival analysis was applied to the data extracted wholly from EHRs used in primary care medical practice.
A total of 46 studies that met the inclusion criteria for the systematic review were examined. All were published within the past decade (2005–2014) with a majority (n = 26, 57%) being published between 2012 and 2014. Even though citation rates varied from nil to 628, over half (n = 27, 59%) of the studies were cited 10 times or more. The median number of subjects was 18,042 with five studies including over 1,000,000 patients. Of the included studies, 35 (76%) were published in specialty journals and 11 (24%) in general medical journals. The many conditions studied largely corresponded well with conditions important to general practice.
Survival analysis applied to primary care electronic medical data is a research approach that has been frequently used in recent times. The utility of this approach was demonstrated by the ability to produce research with large numbers of subjects, across a wide range of conditions and with the potential of a high impact. Importantly, primary care data were thus available to inform primary care practice.