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There are different types of large registries which can be harnessed for inflammatory bowel disease research. Not one registry can answer all types of research questions. It is important for both the researchers using the registries and readers of the reports generated, to be aware of the different strengths and weaknesses of each registry and whether the questions posed can reliably be answered. In this review, the use of large administrative databases/registries are discussed in the context of studying descriptive epidemiology, outcomes of inflammatory bowel disease, pharmacoepidemiology, and etiologic research.