Frequently Asked Questions about the SEER-MHOS Data Set

Is there a limit to the number of cancer sites that a researcher may request?

In order to balance the preferences of our investigators with our needs to be good stewards of the linked data resource, we must limit the number of cancer sites for all data use agreements (DUAs). We assess proposals in order to ensure data safety and confidentiality, but we also keep in mind the ability of the dataset to meet proposed aims. Investigators are advised to carefully consider each cancer site they are requesting and give a rationale for each one. We also suggest that investigators review previously published manuscripts using SEER-MHOS data so as not to duplicate previously published work. Furthermore, we are willing to revisit the release of additional cancer sites upon demonstration of publication on a smaller subset of cancer sites.

Do only the Principal Investigators need to submit a hard-copy, signed DUA?

All personnel with access to the SEER-MHOS data should submit a signed DUA.

As part of the approval process, does NCI critique the methodology or merits of the proposed projects?

  1. The purpose of the approval process is to ensure the confidentiality of the patients and providers in the SEER geographic areas. If there are ongoing concerns about confidentiality, SEER-MHOS data will not be released, regardless of whether a researcher has already been funded by another agency or organization to conduct an analysis using the data.
  2. Reviewers from NCI and SEER may comment, however, on aspects of the research plan that may affect project feasibility and scientific rigor.
  3. NCI will work with investigators requesting data files to balance their research needs with those of the individuals and institutions included in the data.

Do the SEER-MHOS data identify comorbidities that are present before and after cancer diagnosis?

The SEER-MHOS data contain self-reported comorbidities. They may be identified before or after cancer diagnosis depending upon the timing of the MHOS survey.

Can the SEER-MHOS data be linked to other claims information?

The SEER-MHOS data are obtained from a sample of beneficiaries in managed care; therefore, currently the data cannot be linked to Medicare Claims from Medicare fee for service (FFS) plans.