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Effective Health Care Program

Linking Data for Health Services Research: A Framework and Instructional Guide

Research Report

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Health registries greatly enhance health services research, especially when linked with other data sources such as administrative claims. Recently, concerns about patient privacy and data security have produced policies such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) that reduce the availability of sensitive identifying information. In this context, the development of effective record linkage approaches for varying scenarios of data availability is critical. This report presents a conceptual framework and instructional information that scientifically describe the strengths and limitations of different approaches to record linkage of registries to other data sources.