Core requirements for successful data linkage: an example of a triangulation method

Y. M. Hopf, J. Francis, P. J. Helms, J. Haughney, C. Bond

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)
11 Downloads (Pure)


Objectives The aim was to explore the views of professional stakeholders and healthcare professionals (HCPs) on the linkage of UK National Health Service (NHS) data for paediatric pharmacovigilance purposes and to make recommendations for such a system.

Methods A mixed methods approach including a literature review, interviews, focus groups and a three-round Delphi survey with HCPs in Scotland was followed by a triangulation process using a systematic protocol. The survey was structured using the Theoretical Domains Framework of behaviour change. Items retained after applying the matrix-based triangulation process were thematically coded. Ethical approval was granted by the North of Scotland Research Ethics Service.

Results Results from 18 papers, 23 interviewees, 23 participants of focus groups and 61 completed questionnaires in the Delphi survey contributed to the triangulation process. A total of 25 key findings from all four studies were identified during triangulation. There was good convergence; 21 key findings were agreed and remained to inform recommendations. The items were coded as practical/technical (eg, decision about the unique patient identifier to use), mandatory (eg, governed by statute), essential (consistently mentioned in all studies and therefore needed to ensure professional support) or preferable.

Conclusions The development of a paediatric linked database has support from professional stakeholders and HCPs in Scotland. The triangulation identified three sets of core requirements for a new system of data linkage. An additional fourth set of ‘preferable’ requirements might increase engagement of HCPs and their support for the new system.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere011879
Pages (from-to)1-8
Number of pages8
JournalBMJ Open
Issue number10
Early online date21 Oct 2016
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2016

Bibliographical note

Acknowledgements: The authors would like to thank all our participants for
taking part in the studies.

Funding: This work was supported by the Chief Scientist Office (CHIMES Applied Research Programme, grant number ARPG/07/4)


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