Data linkage and natural experiments

This programme focuses on linking data from different sources, and conducting ‘natural experiments’, to improve our understanding of the determinants of population health. Research in this programme aims to maximise the use of existing data, such as routine data from population surveys, allowing interventions to be evaluated without the need for expensive collection of new data. This programme is led by Professor Ronan Lyons at Swansea University, and works closely with the Centre for Improvement in Population Health through E-records Research (CIPHER).

Researchers on this programme work closely with local government and the third sector, current collaborations include Neath Port Talbot Council, Care and Repair Cymru, and Carmarthenshire Council. Key projects include evaluations of the Carmarthenshire Home Standards interventions, and the development of a child safe travel web-based toolkit.

Much of the research in this programme uses the Secure Anonymised Information Linkage (SAIL) databank. The Wales Electronic Cohort for Children (WECC), for example, uses SAIL to link anonymised data on nearly one million children. The WECC is analysed to increase understanding of complex health behaviours, and evaluate policies and interventions.  A hybrid cohort formed from WECC and the Millennium Cohort Study will generate important findings on relationships between health and educational outcomes.

The following are DECIPHer-adopted projects in this programme of research: