Surveillance reporting guide, 2015


Volume 41-4, April 2, 2015: Scientific writing

Scientific writing

Surveillance summary reporting guide



Surveillance reports provide essential information about a disease or health-related condition according to person, time and place. They often provide the basis to identify burden of illness and may include related information, such as trends in risk factor frequency or prescribing practices. Surveillance reports inform strategies to address targeted health conditions and may identify the need for additional clinical care or public health action. They can be summaries of larger reports published in the grey literature and, increasingly, may link to a complete surveillance dataset. Surveillance reports are approximately 2,000-2,500 words in length - excluding the abstract, tables and references.

The Canada Communicable Disease Report (CCDR) supports the use of reporting guidelines, including those collected by the Enhancing the QUAlity and Transparency Of health Research (EQUATOR) NetworkNote 1. However, the EQUATOR Network does not currently provide a guideline for surveillance reports, so the CCDR has developed this one based on other checklists, a guidelines for evaluating surveillance systemsNote 2 and recent trends in Open Science.

Table 1 provides CCDR's checklist for surveillance reports. Figure 1 illustrates an example of how surveillance data is typically summarized graphically with incidence on the y axis and time on the x axis.

As with all submissions, check CCDR's Information for authors (published in January every year with the first issue of each new volume) for general manuscript preparation and submission requirements.

Table 1: Checklist for surveillance reports
Reporting item No1Table 1 footnote 1 Description
Title 1 Compose a title that includes the name of the health condition, population, time and place.
Structured summary 2 Provide a structured abstract including the following sub-headings: Background; Objectives; Methods; Results; and Conclusions.
Context 3 Summarize the current situation regarding the health condition under surveillance and identify why it is important.
Objectives 4 State the objective of the surveillance report.
Setting 5 Describe the setting, locations and dates of the surveillance period.
Population 6 Describe the population under surveillance.
Definitions 7 Provide definitions for each health event under surveillance, including case definitions and any public health interventions.
Information sources 8 Describe all data sources, including the objective of any surveillance systems, what data were collected and how data were gathered, transferred and stored.
Supplementary data 9 If appropriate, note where to access supplemental material (e.g.,
Data quality, missing data and reporting delays. 10 Describe how the data quality was assessed.
Explain how missing data were addressed.
If data is reported by date of diagnosis or symptom onset, include a statement about whether the data for the most recent periods may be revised.
Data analysis 11 Describe any analytical methods used providing sufficient detail to enable a knowledgeable reader with access to the original data to judge its appropriateness and to assess the reported results.
Descriptive data 12 Provide a summary of the descriptive data, including demographics.
Data Quality 13 Report on data quality (e.g., completeness, missing data, under reporting,)
Analytic data 14 Provide a summary of the analysis including (when indicated) estimates of trends. When applicable, point estimates should include appropriate indicators of measurement error such as 95% confidence intervals (e.g., average annual percentage change used to describe trends or odds ratios used to describe subgroup differences).
Figures 15 Create the minimum number of figures to highlight key results.
Create a title that includes person, time and place.
Key results 16 Summarise key results with reference to study objectives
Comparison 17 Consider these findings in relation to the current literature.
Strengths and weaknesses 18 Discuss strengths and weaknesses of the study (data quality, completeness, sources of potential bias).
Interpretation and generalizability 19 Provide a cautious overall interpretation of results considering objectives, limitations, multiplicity of analyses, results from similar studies and other relevant evidence.
Conclusion 20 Ensure conclusions address objective and follow from the results.

Figure 1: Rates of reported cases of Hepatitis C in CanadaFigure 1 footnote 1 by sex, CNDSSFigure 1 footnote 2, 1991-2012Note 3

Figure 1: Rates of reported cases of Hepatitis C in Canada by sex, CNDSS, 1991-2012Note 3

Text description: Figure 1

Figure 1: Rates of reported cases of Hepatitis C in CanadaFigure 1 footnote 1 by sex, CNDSSFigure 1 footnote 2, 1991-2012Note 3

Year Total rate per 100,000 Male rate per 100,000 Female rate per 100,000
1991 5.2 6.4 3.9
1992 15.6 20.2 10.9
1993 20.8 27.3 13.9
1994 32.0 41.3 22.2
1995 64.5 83.9 44.4
1996 53.6 68.6 38.1
1997 60.9 79.0 42.5
1998 66.9 88.9 45.0
1999 62.7 81.8 42.9
2000 57.8 73.7 38.3
2001 54.3 71.5 36.2
2002 50.9 67.2 34.5
2003 46.8 61.1 32.3
2004 45.2 59.0 30.9
2005 40.3 53.1 27.5
2006 36.9 48.1 25.5
2007 36.6 46.2 26.2
2008 35.8 45.7 25.5
2009 33.3 42.7 23.3
2010 31.1 40.2 21.6
2011 28.9 36.8 20.7
2012 29.3 36.8 21.5

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