One of the challenges to using electronic health record (EHR) repositories for research is the difficulty mapping study subject eligibility criteria to the query capabilities of the repository. We sought to characterize criteria as “easy” (searchable in a typical repository), “hard” (requiring manual review of the record data), and “impossible” (not typically available in EHR repositories). We obtained 292 criteria from 20 studies available from Clinical Trials.gov and rated them according to our three types, plus a fourth “mixed” type. We had good agreement among three independent reviewers and chose 274 criteria that were characterized by single types for further analysis. The resulting analysis showed typical features of criteria that do and don't map to repositories. We propose that these features be used to guide researchers in specifying eligibility criteria to improve development of enrollment workflow, including the definition of EHR repository queries for self-service or analyst-mediated retrievals.
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