Gini R, Pajouheshnia R, Gardarsdottir H, Bennett D, Li L, Gulea C, Wientzek-Fleischmann A, Bazelier MT, Burcu M, Dodd C, Duran CE, Kaplan S, Lanes S, Marinier K, Roberto G, Soman K, Zhou X, Platt R, Setoguchi S, Hall GC. Describing diversity of real world data sources in pharmacoepidemiologic studies: the DIVERSE scoping review. Pharmacoepidemiol Drug Saf. 2024 May;33(5):e5787. doi: 10.1002/pds.5787

PURPOSE: Real-world evidence (RWE) is increasingly used for medical regulatory decisions, yet concerns persist regarding its reproducibility and hence validity. This study addresses reproducibility challenges associated with diversity across real-world data sources (RWDS) repurposed for secondary use in pharmacoepidemiologic studies. Our aims were to identify, describe and characterize practices, recommendations and tools for collecting and reporting diversity across RWDSs and explore how leveraging diversity could improve the quality of evidence.

METHODS: In a preliminary phase, keywords for a literature search and selection tool were designed using a set of documents considered to be key by the coauthors. Next, a systematic search was conducted to December 2021. The resulting documents were screened based on titles and abstracts, then based on full texts using the selection tool. Selected documents were reviewed to extract information on topics related to collecting and reporting RWDS diversity. A content analysis of the topics identified explicit and latent themes.

RESULTS: Across the 91 selected documents, 12 topics were identified: 9 dimensions used to describe RWDS (organization accessing the data source, data originator, prompt, inclusion of population, content, data dictionary, time span, healthcare system and culture, and data quality), tools to summarize such dimensions, challenges and opportunities arising from diversity. Thirty-six themes were identified within the dimensions. Opportunities arising from data diversity included multiple imputation and standardization.

CONCLUSIONS: The dimensions identified across a large number of publications lay the foundation for formal guidance on reporting diversity of data sources to facilitate interpretation and enhance replicability and validity of RWE.

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