Connecting data for health and medical research has a long history in Western Australia. WA hosts a state Centre of Excellence in Data LinkageThe process of establishing whether two or more pieces of information belong to or describe the same person, family, event, place or time period., which operates as a collaboration between the Department of Health Western Australia (DOHWADepartment of Health Western Australia), the University of Western Australia (UWAUniversity of Western Australia), the Telethon Institute for Child Health Research (TICHRTelethon Institute of Child Health Research) and Curtin University.
The focal point or hub for this collaboration is the team located within the Data Linkage Branch (DLB) of the Department of Health, WA. The DLB was established in 1995 to develop and maintain a system of linkages connecting data about health events across all individuals in Western Australia.
The DLB is the WA node for the nationally funded Population Health Research Network (www.phrn.org.au) connecting linkage centres in South Australia, Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland and Tasmania.
The DLB manages a system which links WA's core population health data sets. These linkages are created and maintained using rigorous, internationally accepted privacy preserving protocols, probabilisticRelating to probability. In linkage, this is the measurement of the likelihood that certain pieces of information relate to the same entity. matching and extensive clerical review. Health data can be requested for ethically approved research, planning and evaluation projects which aim to improve the health of Western Australians.
The DLB has 19 staff, employed through the collaborating organisations.
The DLB has four teams:
- Client Services Team - manages linkage projects and assists research applicants obtain linked data.
- Data Linkage Unit (DLU) - performs the linkage and systems support.
- Systems Support Team - provides technical support.
- Analysis and Quality Team - undertakes special projects including the WA Family Connections Project and WA Road Safety Project.
The DLB is located at the DOHWA offices in East Perth. Please see the Contact Us page for more information.