Using SAS to enhance data sharing across REDCap projects: Reducing errors, streamlining management, and improving quality

Rachel Myers
Children's Hospital of Philadelphia


With the increasing use of web-based data collection tools and systems, such as the widely used REDCap (Research Electronic Data Capture), there are opportunities to enhance our approach to data management, particularly related to data sharing across databases, projects, or research teams. In situations requiring data sharing across studies or the need to restrict data access to maintain blinding to treatment assignment, research teams often establish multiple project databases with different user permissions to share or restrict access to selected data elements. For on-going, prospective data sharing, teams commonly rely on manual export and import of data files, which can be burdensome, time intensive, require careful attention to file formatting, and be error prone. Enabling REDCap API (Application Programming Interface) allows users to utilize SAS to securely share restricted or selected data across databases, eliminating the need for repeatedly constructing manual data exports, conducting data management, and modifying data import files. This paper describes SAS code for the direct export of selected data from a REDCap database into SAS for data management and manipulation and subsequent import of data into a destination REDCap database. This approach establishes a secure, replicable approach to data sharing that is particularly useful for prospective research and for projects requiring routine and on-going sharing of restricted data. Additionally, the use of the API parameters provides protection against overwriting existing data, reduces the risk of inadvertent disclosure of sensitive data, and provides a mechanism for maintaining records of all data sharing.