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Clinical Effectiveness Group

CEG collaboration awarded £710k for a ground-breaking data linkage project that will enable research into household health

With ADR UK funding, the ‘Healthy Households’ collaboration will develop a de-identified, research-ready dataset linking health data, housing data and other administrative data for the populations of England, Scotland and Wales. This will enable new methods for characterising households by social, economic, environmental, educational and health factors to better understand the wider determinants of health.


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The composition and circumstances of a household can impact the health of the people who live there. But it is currently difficult to study these effects in detail by linking health and property data or grouping de-identified health records by household. The Healthy Households project team - from Swansea University, University of Edinburgh, CEG at Queen Mary University of London, and Endeavour Health Charitable Trust - aims to address those challenges by creating a research-ready dataset that links Unique Property Reference Numbers (UPRNs) with routine health and administrative data.

Encrypting or coding these UPRNs provides a secure way to keep patient identities and addresses hidden, while researchers can build a rich picture of the social and environmental factors that affect health at a population scale. The team will assign UPRNs using the ASSIGN address-matching algorithm, building on their prior innovative work. 

Healthy Households will build use cases that explore housing, demographics and social and health inequalities at household level, and a toolkit to help researchers include household composition and overcrowding measures in their analyses. The team will also carry out engagement activities and develop preliminary insights into public attitudes to using routine data for household research. 

Dr Richard Fry, Associate Professor of Environment and Health at Swansea University and ADR Wales academic lead, said: 

“The pandemic has highlighted how important household circumstances such as over-crowding are for physical and mental health and education. It has also highlighted the benefits of using information collected routinely by public services for research.

“At present it is hard to understand household circumstances at a UK level due to the difficulty linking housing information to other data such as health and education. Thanks to ADR UK funding, we will be able to exemplify the safe and secure use of UPRNs for research and better understand the challenges arising from linking address level data. This work will help to create better tools and a dataset that will facilitate deidentified research on households that focuses on providing a better understanding to help those with the most pressing health, social and housing needs.”

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