How good is probabilistic record linkage to reconstruct reproductive histories?

Results from the Aberdeen Children of the 1950s study

Dorothea Nitsch, Susan Morton, Bianca L DeStavola, Heather Clark, David A Leon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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Abstract

Background
Probabilistic record linkage is widely used in epidemiology, but studies of its validity are rare. Our aim was to validate its use to identify births to a cohort of women, being drawn from a large cohort of people born in Scotland in the early 1950s.

Methods
The Children of the 1950s cohort includes 5868 females born in Aberdeen 1950–56 who were in primary schools in the city in 1962. In 2001 a postal questionnaire was sent to the cohort members resident in the UK requesting information on offspring. Probabilistic record linkage (based on surname, maiden name, initials, date of birth and postcode) was used to link the females in the cohort to birth records held by the Scottish Maternity Record System (SMR 2).

Results
We attempted to mail a total of 5540 women; 3752 (68%) returned a completed questionnaire. Of these 86% reported having had at least one birth. Linkage to SMR 2 was attempted for 5634 women, one or more maternity records were found for 3743. There were 2604 women who reported at least one birth in the questionnaire and who were linked to one or more SMR 2 records. When judged against the questionnaire information, the linkage correctly identified 4930 births and missed 601 others. These mostly occurred outside of Scotland (147) or prior to full coverage by SMR 2 (454). There were 134 births incorrectly linked to SMR 2.

Conclusion
Probabilistic record linkage to routine maternity records applied to population-based cohort, using name, date of birth and place of residence, can have high specificity, and as such may be reliably used in epidemiological research.
Original languageEnglish
Article number15
Number of pages9
JournalBMC Medical Research Methodology
Volume6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 22 Mar 2006

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Reproductive History
Parturition
Scotland
Names
Birth Certificates
Postal Service
Epidemiology
SMR 2
Surveys and Questionnaires
Research
Population

Cite this

How good is probabilistic record linkage to reconstruct reproductive histories? Results from the Aberdeen Children of the 1950s study. / Nitsch, Dorothea; Morton, Susan; DeStavola, Bianca L; Clark, Heather; Leon, David A.

In: BMC Medical Research Methodology, Vol. 6, 15, 22.03.2006.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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abstract = "BackgroundProbabilistic record linkage is widely used in epidemiology, but studies of its validity are rare. Our aim was to validate its use to identify births to a cohort of women, being drawn from a large cohort of people born in Scotland in the early 1950s.MethodsThe Children of the 1950s cohort includes 5868 females born in Aberdeen 1950–56 who were in primary schools in the city in 1962. In 2001 a postal questionnaire was sent to the cohort members resident in the UK requesting information on offspring. Probabilistic record linkage (based on surname, maiden name, initials, date of birth and postcode) was used to link the females in the cohort to birth records held by the Scottish Maternity Record System (SMR 2).ResultsWe attempted to mail a total of 5540 women; 3752 (68{\%}) returned a completed questionnaire. Of these 86{\%} reported having had at least one birth. Linkage to SMR 2 was attempted for 5634 women, one or more maternity records were found for 3743. There were 2604 women who reported at least one birth in the questionnaire and who were linked to one or more SMR 2 records. When judged against the questionnaire information, the linkage correctly identified 4930 births and missed 601 others. These mostly occurred outside of Scotland (147) or prior to full coverage by SMR 2 (454). There were 134 births incorrectly linked to SMR 2.ConclusionProbabilistic record linkage to routine maternity records applied to population-based cohort, using name, date of birth and place of residence, can have high specificity, and as such may be reliably used in epidemiological research.",
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N2 - BackgroundProbabilistic record linkage is widely used in epidemiology, but studies of its validity are rare. Our aim was to validate its use to identify births to a cohort of women, being drawn from a large cohort of people born in Scotland in the early 1950s.MethodsThe Children of the 1950s cohort includes 5868 females born in Aberdeen 1950–56 who were in primary schools in the city in 1962. In 2001 a postal questionnaire was sent to the cohort members resident in the UK requesting information on offspring. Probabilistic record linkage (based on surname, maiden name, initials, date of birth and postcode) was used to link the females in the cohort to birth records held by the Scottish Maternity Record System (SMR 2).ResultsWe attempted to mail a total of 5540 women; 3752 (68%) returned a completed questionnaire. Of these 86% reported having had at least one birth. Linkage to SMR 2 was attempted for 5634 women, one or more maternity records were found for 3743. There were 2604 women who reported at least one birth in the questionnaire and who were linked to one or more SMR 2 records. When judged against the questionnaire information, the linkage correctly identified 4930 births and missed 601 others. These mostly occurred outside of Scotland (147) or prior to full coverage by SMR 2 (454). There were 134 births incorrectly linked to SMR 2.ConclusionProbabilistic record linkage to routine maternity records applied to population-based cohort, using name, date of birth and place of residence, can have high specificity, and as such may be reliably used in epidemiological research.

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