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Evid Rep Technol Assess (Full Rep). 2016 Sep;(222):1-70. doi: 10.23970/AHRQEPCERTA222.

Data Linkage Strategies to Advance Youth Suicide Prevention.

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Johns Hopkins University Evidence-based Practice Center.



Linking national, State, and community data systems, such as those used for medical service billing, to existing data from suicide prevention efforts could facilitate the assessment of longer term outcomes. Our objective was to identify and describe data systems that can be linked to data from studies of youth suicide prevention interventions and to identify analytic approaches to advance youth suicide prevention research.


We conducted a systematic review to identify studies of suicide prevention interventions and three types of searches to identify data systems providing suicide-related outcomes: (1) a literature search, (2) an environmental scan of gray literature, and (3) a targeted search, through contact with relevant individuals, in six States, two cities, and one tribal community.


Two independent reviewers screened all results. Studies and data systems had to be based in the United States; include individuals between 0 and 25 years of age; and include suicide, suicide attempt, or suicide ideation as an outcome.


Of the 47 studies (described in 59 articles) of suicide prevention interventions identified in our systematic review, only 6 studied outcomes by linking to external data systems and only 12 explored treatment heterogeneity through the effects of moderators such as gender or race/ethnicity. We identified 153 unique and potentially linkable external data systems, 66 of which we classified as "fairly accessible" with data dictionaries available.


There is potential for linking existing data systems with suicide prevention efforts to assess the broader and extended impact of suicide prevention interventions. However, sparse availability of data dictionaries and lack of adherence to standard data elements limit the potential utility of linking prevention efforts with data systems.


Conflict of interest statement

None of the investigators have any affiliations or financial involvement that conflicts with the material presented in this report.

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