Linking electronic health data in pharmacoepidemiology: Appropriateness and feasibility.
PURPOSE: To provide guidance on data linkage appropriateness and feasibility to plan purposeful and sustainable new linkages that advance pharmacoepidemiology and healthcare research. Planning a new data linkage requires careful evaluation to weigh the resources required with the potential overall benefits. METHODS: In response to an International Society for Pharmacoepidemiology (ISPE) call for manuscripts, a working group comprised of members from academic, industry, and government determined priority content areas; appropriateness and feasibility of data linkage was selected. Within this topic, scientific and operational considerations were determined, reviewed, and formulated into key areas, and translated into 12 consensus recommendations. RESULTS: Guidance for feasibility assessment was categorized into five key areas: (1) research objectives and justification; (2) data quality and completeness; (3) the linkage process; (4) data ownership and governance; and (5) overall value added by linkage. Within these key areas, recommendations to consider prior to initiation were developed to evaluate suitability of the linkage to meet research objectives, assess source data completeness and population coverage, and ensure well-defined data governance standards and protections. When creating novel linked datasets, researchers must assess the feasibility of both scientific (data quality and linkage methods) and operational (access, data use and transfer, governance, and cost) aspects. CONCLUSIONS: The data linkage feasibility assessment considerations outlined can be used as a guide when designing sustainable linked data resources to generate actionable evidence in healthcare research. These recommendations were constructed for wide applicability and can be adapted depending on the geographic, structural, and data components of the linkage.
Rivera, DR; Gokhale, MN; Reynolds, MW; Andrews, EB; Chun, D; Haynes, K; Jonsson-Funk, ML; Lynch, KE; Lund, JL; Strongman, H; Bhullar, H; Raman, SR
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