University of Limerick
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Using administrative health data for palliative and end of life care research in Ireland: potential and challenges

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journal contribution
posted on 2021-07-14, 15:05 authored by Maria Kelly, Katie M. O'Brien, Ailish Hannigan
Background: This study aims to examine the potential of currently available administrative health and social care data for palliative and end-of-life care (PEoLC) research in Ireland. Objectives include to i) identify data sources for PEoLC research ii) describe the challenges and opportunities of using these and iii) evaluate the impact of recent health system reforms and changes to data protection laws. Methods: The 2017 Health Information and Quality Authority catalogue of health and social care datasets was cross-referenced with a recognised list of diseases with associated palliative care needs. Criteria to assess the datasets included population coverage, data collected, data dictionary and data model availability, and mechanisms for data access. Results: Nine datasets with potential for PEoLC research were identified, including death certificate data, hospital episode data, pharmacy claims data, one national survey, four disease registries (cancer, cystic fibrosis, motor neurone and interstitial lung disease) and a national renal transplant registry. The ad hoc development of the health system in Ireland has resulted in i) a fragmented information infrastructure resulting in gaps in data collections particularly in the primary and community care sector where much palliative care is delivered, ii) ill-defined data governance arrangements across service providers, many of whom are not part of the publically funded health service and iii) systemic and temporal issues that affect data quality. Initiatives to improve data collections include introduction of i) patient unique identifiers, ii) health entity identifiers and iii) integration of the Eircode postcodes. Recently enacted general data protection and health research regulations will clarify legal and ethical requirements for data use. Conclusions: Ongoing reform initiatives and recent changes to data privacy laws combined with detailed knowledge of the datasets, appropriate permissions, and good study design will facilitate future use of administrative health and social care data for PEoLC research in Ireland.



HRB Open Research;4: 17





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