Barriers and Solutions to Linking and Using Health and Social Care Data in Scotland

Iain M. Atherton, Ellen Lynch, Andrew J. Williams, Miles D. Witham*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


Integration of health and social care will require integrated data to drive service evaluation, design, joint working and research. We describe the results of a Scottish meeting of key stakeholders in this area. Potential uses for linked data included understanding client populations, mapping trajectories of dependency, identifying at risk groups, predicting required capacity for future service provision, and research to better understand the reciprocal interactions between health, social circumstances and care. Barriers to progress included lack of analytical capacity, incomplete understanding of data provenance and quality, intersystem incompatibility and issues of consent for data sharing. Potential solutions included better understanding the content, quality and provenance of social care data; investment in analytical capacity; improving communication between data providers and users in health and social care; clear guidance to systems developers and procurers; and enhanced engagement with the public. We plan a website for communication across Scotland on health and social care data linkage, educational resources for front line staff and researchers, plus further events for training and information dissemination. We believe that these processes hold lessons for other countries with an interest in linking health and social care data, as well as for cross-sector data linkage initiatives in general.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1614-1622
Number of pages9
JournalBritish Journal of Social Work
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2015


  • Data linkage
  • health care
  • integration
  • social care


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