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Data Linkage Strategies to Advance Youth Suicide Prevention

Systematic Review ARCHIVED Oct 4, 2016
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Structured Abstract


Linking national, State, and community data systems, such as those used for medical service billing, to existing data from suicide prevention efforts could facilitate the assessment of longer term outcomes. Our objective was to identify and describe data systems that can be linked to data from studies of youth suicide prevention interventions and to identify analytic approaches to advance youth suicide prevention research.

Data sources

We conducted a systematic review to identify studies of suicide prevention interventions and three types of searches to identify data systems providing suicide-related outcomes: (1) a literature search, (2) an environmental scan of gray literature, and (3) a targeted search, through contact with relevant individuals, in six States, two cities, and one tribal community.

Review methods

Two independent reviewers screened all results. Studies and data systems had to be based in the United States; include individuals between 0 and 25 years of age; and include suicide, suicide attempt, or suicide ideation as an outcome.


Of the 47 studies (described in 59 articles) of suicide prevention interventions identified in our systematic review, only 6 studied outcomes by linking to external data systems and only 12 explored treatment heterogeneity through the effects of moderators such as gender or race/ethnicity. We identified 153 unique and potentially linkable external data systems, 66 of which we classified as "fairly accessible" with data dictionaries available.


There is potential for linking existing data systems with suicide prevention efforts to assess the broader and extended impact of suicide prevention interventions. However, sparse availability of data dictionaries and lack of adherence to standard data elements limit the potential utility of linking prevention efforts with data systems.


Wilcox HC, Wissow L, Kharrazi H, Wilson RF, Musci RJ, Zhang A, Robinson KA. Data Linkage Strategies To Advance Youth Suicide Prevention. Evidence Report/Technology Assessment No. 222. (Prepared by the Johns Hopkins University Evidence-based Practice Center under Contract No. 290-2012-00007-I.) AHRQ Publication No. 16(17)-E001-EF. Rockville, MD: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality; October 2016. DOI: https://doi.org/10.23970/AHRQEPCERTA222.

Journal Publications

Wilcox HC, Wissow L, Kharrazi H, Wilson RF, et.al. Data Linkage Strategies to Advance Youth Suicide Prevention: A Systematic Review for a National Institutes of Health Pathways to Prevention Workshop. Ann Intern Med. Published online 4 October 2016 doi:10.7326/M16-1281.

Project Timeline

Data Linkage Strategies to Advance Youth Suicide Prevention

Sep 18, 2015
Topic Initiated
Dec 28, 2015
Oct 4, 2016
Systematic Review Archived
Page last reviewed January 2020
Page originally created November 2017

Internet Citation: Systematic Review: Data Linkage Strategies to Advance Youth Suicide Prevention. Content last reviewed January 2020. Effective Health Care Program, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD.

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