Performance Improvement 2013-2014. How Well Does the National Cancer Institute's Surveillance Epidemiology and End Results Project Provide Useful Cancer Burden Data to Researchers and the Public?

01/01/2014

The Surveillance Research Program provides cancer information via the Surveillance Epidemiology and End Results (SEER) project. This data, spanning U.S. incidence, prevalence, mortality, and survival, helps to measure progress in various efforts to reduce cancer burden. Usability evaluations of recently-developed SEER data visualizations were conducted to collect feedback to help improve the communication of cancer statistics for diverse audiences. Expert reviews of visualization tools and graphics, and two user-based usability evaluations were conducted. The first usability evaluation assessed the needs of researchers and other “statistically savvy” users, specifically their use of Google Public Data Explorer (GPDE) to visualize SEER data. The second usability evaluation assessed the needs of users considered to have limited background in statistics, such as the general public and the media.

The first round of usability testing demonstrated that most users felt that a visualization tool would be “nice to have” for researchers. The GPDE visualization tool was not intuitive to use, suffered from a variety of limitations, and has bugs/interface issues that must be addressed. The second round of usability evaluation with the public and media highlighted several areas where the graphics were poorly understood, leading to misinterpretation of the data. Participants wanted more options than the GPDE tool offered. It was not sufficient to replace or augment current tools offered through SEER. More work would be necessary to develop a visualization tool that would significantly enhance SEER's ability to communicate cancer statistics to researchers. Revisions to the cancer data displays will also be necessary for them to better communicate cancer statistics to the public. 

Report Title: Report On the Formative User-Centered Testing of Consolidated Cancer Statistics On the Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results (SEER) Web Site
Agency Sponsor: NIH, National Institutes of Health
Federal Contact: Rosanna Ng, 301-496-5367
Performer: User-Centered Designs, Inc.
Record ID: 9936 (October 1, 2012)

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