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Administrative Data Linkage as a Tool for Child Maltreatment Research

NCJ Number
Child Abuse & Neglect Volume: 37 Issue: 2-3 Dated: February/March 2013 Pages: 120-124
Marni D. Brownell; Douglas P. Jutte
Date Published
March 2013
5 pages
This article describes the use of administrative data linkage in child maltreatment research.
Child maltreatment research often involves large-scale, longitudinal studies that require the use of large amounts of data. Managing this data can often be difficult to coordinate, time-consuming, and expensive. As a result, the authors of this article propose the use of linked administrative data as an effective tool in child maltreatment research. The use of linked population-based administrative data enables researchers to draw very large samples that can provide long-term follow-up information. The process of data linkage involves obtaining information on the same individual from two or more different sets of records. The process is accomplished in a multi-state, de-identification format that aims to protect the privacy, confidentiality, and security of the data. To ensure that issues of privacy, confidentiality, and security are addressed, many jurisdictions have enacted legislation that deals with these issues. While the use of administrative data linkages is helpful for research, certain limitations exist in its use in child maltreatment research. These limitations deal with the limited population of children who come to the attention of child welfare agencies; the fact that the data is often collected for reasons other than those required in the research; and the frequent lack of individual-level and socioeconomic status data. The use of linked administrative data can be a useful tool in child maltreatment research, especially if the research is supplemented with epidemiologic studies. References