For Researchers

Benefits and Value

The Canadian Primary Care Sentinel Surveillance Network (CPCSSN) securely collects de-identified health information from electronic medical records of participating primary care clinicians (e.g. family physicians and nurse practitioners) who are referred to as ‘sentinels.’ There are potential opportunities to link CPCSSN data with other aspects of the health system (i.e. hospitalization data). This work allows researchers, policy makers, and clinicians to better understand primary healthcare and delivery, disease trends, and improve patient care across the country.

Members of CPCSSN can request fully anonymized data sets from CPCSSN with which to conduct research. Data linkage of CPCSSN to other data are possible in order to provide researchers with a full picture of what is happening across health networks and provinces. Data linkage is a technique that associates two distinct data sources so that data that relate to the same individual, group, or unit can be combined for analysis.

Linking data allows for more exhaustive data sets and can enable research involving multiple variables that cannot be researched with one data source alone. CPCSSN has linked CPCSSN-collected electronic medical record data with complementary administrative health data so that complex conditions involving many variables can be researched. For example, a CIHR-funded study is examining frailty among elderly adults, which requires information on several physiological functions (e.g. blood pressure) in addition to information on the use of health care services (e.g. hospitalizations). Data linkages must be conducted within each regional network and may not feasible in all networks.

CPCSSN Data Access Fees Policy

Access to primary care electronic medical record data are made possible by the ongoing acquisition & standardized processing of electronic medical record data across Canada. Follow the link below to learn more about CPCSSN’s Data Access Fees Policy.

Letter of Intent

Researchers who would like to include CPCSSN data as part of a research study will also need to submit a Letter of Intent (LOI) outlining their proposed research and data required. To submit a letter of intent fill out the form below. Before submitting an LOI review the LOI Evaluation Criteria and LOI Processing Steps. After receiving your LOI, a member of the CPCSSN team will contact you and help you with the review and approval process. We only release derived data to researchers with justification for the fields you are requesting.

Letter of Intent for a Proposed Study with CPCSSN Data



  • Include: (a) Brief review of the literature (b) Theoretical/conceptual framework or model (c) Significance or impact of the study i.e.: importance to the current policy landscape or to chronic disease management and/or potential for innovation (limit 1 paragraph)

  • Clearly define your sample population, including dates.
  • If "Other", please specify:
  • State your main study variables. Please indicate their roles (dependent, independent, descriptive, potential confounder etc.)
  • Briefly describe your analytical plan.
  • If yes, please briefly describe the linked data source and describe your re-identification risk protocols
  • Describe the specific location (address, computer lab location etc…) of the computers being used to carry out analyses and/or store data.
  • Please state the name of your local Research Ethics Board and briefly summarize the ethical requirements for your study. NB: You are not required to have approval for the project at the time of proposal submission, but will be asked to forward a copy of the approval to CPCSSN once the project is operational.

  • List all team members, qualifications and roles in the study.

  • Please state the source of your funding for this study. Please provide details of any funding applications that will be submitted (organization, amount, submission date) and provide a description of any letters of support required.