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Public Health Res Pract. 2018 Jun 14;28(2). pii: 2821810. doi: 10.17061/phrp2821810.

Optimising the use of linked administrative data for infectious diseases research in Australia.

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Wesfarmers Centre of Vaccines & Infectious Diseases, Telethon Kids Institute, University of Western Australia, Perth,
Wesfarmers Centre of Vaccines & Infectious Diseases, Telethon Kids Institute, University of Western Australia, Perth; Department of Infectious Diseases, Perth Children's Hospital, Western Australia; Division of Paediatrics, School of Medicine, University of Western Australia, Perth.


Infectious diseases remain a major cause of morbidity in Australia. A wealth of data exists in administrative datasets, which are linked through established data-linkage infrastructure in most Australian states and territories. These linkages can support robust studies to investigate the burden of disease, the relative contribution of various aetiological agents to disease, and the effectiveness of population-based prevention policies - research that is critical to the success of current and future vaccination programs. At a recent symposium in Perth, epidemiologists, clinicians and policy makers in the infectious diseases field discussed the various benefits of, and barriers to, data-linkage research, with a focus on respiratory infection research. A number of issues and recommendations emerged. The demand for data-linkage projects is starting to outweigh the capabilities of exisiting data-linkage infrastructure. There is a need to further streamline processes relating to data access, increase data sharing and conduct nationally collaborative projects. Concerns about data security and sharing across jurisdictional borders can be addressed through multiple safe data solutions. Researchers need to do more to ensure that the benefits of linking datasets to answer policy-relevant questions are being realised for the benefit of community groups, government authorities, funding bodies and policy makers. Increased collaboration and engagement across all sectors can optimise the use of linked data to help reduce the burden of infectious diseases.

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