City Research Online

Linkage of maternity hospital episode statistics birth records to birth registration and notification records for births in England 2005–2006: quality assurance of linkage

Coathup, V., Macfarlane, A. J. ORCID: 0000-0003-0977-7214 & Quigley, M. A. (2020). Linkage of maternity hospital episode statistics birth records to birth registration and notification records for births in England 2005–2006: quality assurance of linkage. BMJ Open, 10(10), article number e037885. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2020-037885


Objectives The objectives of this study were to describe the methods used to assess the quality of linkage between records of babies’ birth registration and hospital birth records, and to evaluate the potential bias that may be introduced because of these methods.

Design/setting Data from the civil registration and the notification of births previously linked by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) had been further linked to birth records from the Hospital Episode Statistics (HES) for babies born in England. We developed a deterministic, six-stage algorithm to assess the quality of this linkage.

Participants All 1 170 790 live, singleton births, occurring in National Health Service hospitals in England between 1 January 2005 and 31 December 2006.

Primary outcome measure The primary outcome was the number of successful links between ONS birth records and HES birth records. Rates of successful linkage were calculated for the cohort and the characteristics associated with unsuccessful linkage were identified.

Results Approximately 92% (1 074 572) of the birth registration records were successfully linked with a HES birth record. Data quality and completeness were somewhat poorer in HES birth records compared with linked birth registration and birth notification records. The quality assurance algorithms identified 1456 incorrect linkages (<1%). Compared with the linked dataset, birth records were more likely to be unlinked if babies were of white ethnic origin; born to unmarried mothers; born in East England, London, North West England or the West Midlands; or born in March.

Conclusions It is possible to link administrative datasets to create large cohorts, allowing researchers to explore important questions about exposures and childhood outcomes. Missing data, coding errors and inconsistencies mean it is important that the quality of linkage is assessed prior to analysis.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: © Author(s) (or their employer(s)) 2020. Re-use permitted under CC BY. Published by BMJ. This is an open access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 Unported (CC BY 4.0) license, which permits others to copy, redistribute, remix, transform and build upon this work for any purpose, provided the original work is properly cited, a link to the licence is given, and indication of whether changes were made.
Subjects: R Medicine > RG Gynecology and obstetrics
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Midwifery & Radiography
SWORD Depositor:
[thumbnail of e037885.full.pdf]
Text - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons: Attribution International Public License 4.0.

Download (715kB) | Preview


Add to AnyAdd to TwitterAdd to FacebookAdd to LinkedinAdd to PinterestAdd to Email


Downloads per month over past year

View more statistics

Actions (login required)

Admin Login Admin Login