Extending the Longitudinal Studies Centre - Scotland (LSCS) from 2009 to 2011

Lead Research Organisation: University of St Andrews
Department Name: School of Geography and Geosciences

Abstract

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Description The Scottish Longitudinal Study (SLS) is a pioneering study, combining census, civil registration, health and education data (administrative data). It has established an approach that allows the legal and ethical use of personal, sensitive information by maintaining anonymity within the data system. This approach has become a model for the national data linkage systems that are now being established across the UK. The SLS has also enabled policy analysts to monitor key characteristics of the Scottish population in particular health inequalities (alerting policy makers to Scotland's poor position within Europe), migration (aiding economic planning) and changing tenure patterns (informing house building decisions). Finally, the study has become fully embedded in Scotland's National Statistical agency, allowing it to produce new informative statistical series.

There have been 5 main key findings areas.
1. Legal, ethical and governance research
The SLS is founded on the linking of personal data for which consent cannot be practically sought between individuals. This creates a circular problem where the data used has to remain anonymous, to comply with data protection legislation, while in order to link the datasets, names and addresses have to be used. Legal and governance research (2001-2004) revealed a method based on 'firewalls' and 'Trusted Third Party' mechanisms (where the linkage is carried out by an organisation geographically separate from that managing the research dataset, this means that the research organization does not need to hold names and addresses greatly reducing the risk of disclosure) that allow linkage while also maintaining anonymity.

2. Sample design and data development
Research was carried out into suitable sampling strategies that would ensure that the sampling of birthdates across the year did not produce seasons of the year with no coverage. Considerable work was involved (2001-2004) in processing the census forms in particular, retrospectively coding the 90% of 'difficult to code' census information (e.g. occupation) that were not available electronically. Automatic systems for coding these were developed to allow cost-effective processing.

3. Linking methodology
None of the datasets that were to be linked for individuals (to produce the breadth and length of record for individuals) could be simply matched. Instead a method had to be developed that would use information such as address and date of birth to find the appropriate record for an individual (2001-2004). This method had to be sensitive to misspellings and changes to this information (i.e. people moving). We therefore developed a complex system of probabilistic and manual matching stages, all of which were implemented through a process that limited the amount of information any one organization had, to reduce the risk of information disclosure. This process was very successful, leading to final tracing and matching rates of >98%.

4. Research demonstrating the utility of a census-administrative data based longitudinal study
In order for the large investment in the setting up and running of the SLS to be made, a continuing case for the utility of such a study had to be established. Research therefore into gaps into the Scottish policy evidence base, the utility of administrative data-based research and a potential SLS methodology was undertaken and fed into the case for support for the study took place 2007 onwards after the data became available for analysis. This led to the initial investment in the SLS by multiple funders.

5. Estimating new variables in the data
The SLS is based on census and administrative data with variables limited to those collected in these systems. Research has therefore led to the estimation of 'synthetic measures', using a number of modeling methods, of variables of research importance 2011-13. This has included estimates of smoking propensity and income.

Thus, a complex system has been put in place which allows anonymous individual-level data drawn from a range of different sources to be linked and held in the SLS.
Exploitation Route The governance structure, linkage methodology and estimation methods, developed by the SLS team, have been used by the Scottish Government, National government and research councils as a model for newly emerging research infrastructures.

The research findings of external researchers using the SLS have been taken forward in wide variety of different ways.
Sectors Communities and Social Services/Policy,Education,Environment,Healthcare

URL http://sls.lscs.ac.uk/outputs/
 
Description The Scottish Longitudinal Study (SLS) has had impact in a number of significant areas in Scotland but also more widely across the UK: 1. It has changed National Records of Scotland's (NRS) statistical infrastructure - allowing new statistical series to be produced 2. It is used by local, national government and NHS officials for policy analysis, impacting local and national policy decision making 3. The study has trained over 100 researchers in longitudinal data analysis using administrative data 4. The SLS data system has become a model for the newly emerging UK national administrative data infrastructure Changed National Records of Scotland's statistical infrastructure. The SLS has been accepted as a Scottish National study and as such it is now co-supported and housed within the National Records of Scotland (NRS) - the National Statistical Agency since 2004. As a longitudinal study it replaces the need for expensive traditional longitudinal surveys collected through face-to-face questionnaires (often costing up to £10 million). The recognition of the study by the Scottish equivalent of the Office of National Statistics as being part of the National statistical system is testament to the quality and reliability of the study. The SLS has changed the type of statistical series that NRS are producing. For example the General Registrars' report (2010), on new demographic findings, makes extensive use of the SLS. (Since 1855 - the General Registrars' report is annually laid before Parliament as the major statement on Scotland's population). NRS have used it to ask important questions about the nature of occupational coding (and therefore social class) on death certificates (a key statistic for government), investigating the potential exaggeration of someone's occupation status at death. Impacted local and national policy decision making. Since its creation, the SLS has also been used by analysts outside the academy to examine a wide range of research questions feeding into government social, health and housing policy. This has included, for example, reports and studies conducted on behalf of the Scottish Government, Scottish Public Health Observatory and the NHS. To give two examples. Researchers in Glasgow City Council used it to investigate local patterns of housing tenure change and in particular the slowing of the fall in demand for social housing. These findings were incorporated into a demographic model of tenure change, which then fed into the research base for a number of key strategic policy documents including the Glasgow and the Clyde Valley Housing Needs and Demand Assessment, Glasgow and the Clyde Valley Strategic Development Plan, and Glasgow's Housing Strategy. A researcher working within Scottish Government working on 'return migration' work form key evidence for the Scottish Government report, 'Characteristics and intentions of immigrants to and emigrants from Scotland - Review of existing evidence' (Eirich, 2011), this in turn was discussed by Skills Development Scotland, Migrants' Rights Network, National Coalition of Anti-Deportation Campaigns and the Information Centre about Asylum and Refugees. It was also referenced in the UK Needs Analysis Report of the EU Portfolio of Integration projects. Training researchers. In addition to the impacts of managing for government a major data base, and producing research that impacts policy in the areas of health, education and employment, a third impact has been in training people in longitudinal data analysis and in supporting non-academic research use of the SLS. St Andrews researchers have been pro-active in organising training for those outside the academy wishing to access the SLS. Since 2008, 14 training events have been organised by the SLS team in Edinburgh, Belfast, Glasgow, London, Stirling, and St Andrews. In total 125 non-academic users have been trained including 4 people from local authorities, 6 from health boards, 110 from various sectors of the Scottish Government, 5 from Charities or private consulting firms. Given the relatively small community of quantitative social scientists in Scotland, this represents a good proportion of potential users. As a result of this training, 9 longitudinal research projects have been launched by non-academics in the fields of health inequalities, migration and employment. Model for the newly emerging UK national administrative data infrastructure. The SLS has become a path-breaking model that allows the linkage, holding, and analysis of highly personal data within appropriately strict legal and ethical constraints. For example, the Scottish Government use it as an exemplar of good practice in their development of national Data Sharing and Linkage Service, "The SLS has been of absolute fundamental importance to the development of the new National Data Sharing and Linking Service". The SLS has become a very important model for other parts of the UK that are seeking to produce similar studies. The Administrative Data Taskforce (ADT) (making recommendations to David Willets, the Minister of State for Universities and Science, and BIS over the future of UK wide research infrastructure) has used the design of the SLS as a model for future UK-wide research centres). The ADT argued that future "ADRC [Administrative Data Research Centres] could build on best practice from the experience of the . Scottish Longitudinal Study (SLS)" (p.5) and have a "data linkage process ... similar to that used by the Scottish Longitudinal Study (SLS), where personal identifying information is not held in the ADRC, but is matched through a third party service, such as the National Health Service Central Register" (p.6).
First Year Of Impact 2003
Sector Communities and Social Services/Policy,Education,Healthcare
Impact Types Societal,Policy & public services

 
Description LSCS for extending the SLS 
Organisation National Records of Scotland
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution The SLS involves: creating, maintaining, extending, supporting, promoting and utilising the SLS data - which is a large-scale linkage study created using data from administrative and statistical sources. These include: census data from 1991 onwards; vital events data (births, deaths, marriages); NHS Central Register data (gives information on migration into or out of Scotland); and education data (including Schools Census and SQA data). For this to happen, National Records of Scotland (as the data controller for census records) needs to a be an active partner. Over 10 years the SLS team has worked with NRS to build a use case for a linked census study within NRS and then jointly developing and then operationalising a methodology for such a study.
Collaborator Contribution NRS: - provide the accommodation for hosting the SLS data, main office and Safe Setting room - employ a NRS SLS Project Manger - aids with the record linkage of various parts of the project. These include: census data; vital events data and NHS Central Register data School of Geography and Geosciences St Andrews: - Colleagues employed on the project help create, support, promote and utilise the SLS data
Impact The collaboration is multi-disciplinary and spans various funding rounds of the SLS project, covering: 67 Publications (25 from ES/K00574X/1 and 42 from ES/I037652/1) 57 Engagement Activities (36 from ES/K000454/1, 13 from ES/I037652/1 and 8 from ES/G020787/1)
 
Description LSCS for extending the SLS 
Organisation University of St Andrews
Department School of Geography & Geosciences
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution The SLS involves: creating, maintaining, extending, supporting, promoting and utilising the SLS data - which is a large-scale linkage study created using data from administrative and statistical sources. These include: census data from 1991 onwards; vital events data (births, deaths, marriages); NHS Central Register data (gives information on migration into or out of Scotland); and education data (including Schools Census and SQA data). For this to happen, National Records of Scotland (as the data controller for census records) needs to a be an active partner. Over 10 years the SLS team has worked with NRS to build a use case for a linked census study within NRS and then jointly developing and then operationalising a methodology for such a study.
Collaborator Contribution NRS: - provide the accommodation for hosting the SLS data, main office and Safe Setting room - employ a NRS SLS Project Manger - aids with the record linkage of various parts of the project. These include: census data; vital events data and NHS Central Register data School of Geography and Geosciences St Andrews: - Colleagues employed on the project help create, support, promote and utilise the SLS data
Impact The collaboration is multi-disciplinary and spans various funding rounds of the SLS project, covering: 67 Publications (25 from ES/K00574X/1 and 42 from ES/I037652/1) 57 Engagement Activities (36 from ES/K000454/1, 13 from ES/I037652/1 and 8 from ES/G020787/1)
 
Description An introduction to the Scottish Longitudinal Study (Dibben, ESDS 2011) 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? Yes
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact The Scottish Longitudinal Study (SLS) is a large-scale linkage study which has been created by using data available from current Scottish administrative and statistical sources. These include Census data, Vital Events data (births, deaths, marriages), Educational data, National Health Service Central Register (NHSCR) data (migration in or out of Scotland) and NHS data (cancer registrations and hospital admissions). It therefore covers a wide range of variables covering cultural, demographic, economic, health, housing and social issues.

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Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2010
URL http://calls.ac.uk/output-entry/an-introduction-to-the-scottish-longitudinal-study/
 
Description An introduction to the Scottish Longitudinal Study (Melting Pot 2010) 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? Yes
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact The Scottish Longitudinal Study (SLS) is a large-scale linkage study which has been created by using data available from current Scottish administrative and statistical sources. These include Census data, Vital Events data (births, deaths, marriages), Educational data, National Health Service Central Register (NHSCR) data (migration in or out of Scotland) and NHS data (cancer registrations and hospital admissions). It therefore covers a wide range of variables covering cultural, demographic, economic, health, housing and social issues.

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Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2010
URL http://calls.ac.uk/output-entry/an-introduction-to-the-scottish-longitudinal-study-2/
 
Description Does being widowed increase the risk of death? 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/parliamentarians
Results and Impact Presentation given at the Scottish Government, Edinburgh.

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Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2010
URL http://calls.ac.uk/output-entry/does-being-widowed-increase-the-risk-of-death/
 
Description Social Inequalities in Avoidable Mortality: Evidence from two British Cohort Studies 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact Invited lecture

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Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013
URL http://calls.ac.uk/output-entry/social-inequalities-in-avoidable-mortality-evidence-from-two-british...
 
Description Teenage Parents in Scotland 1991 to 2001. Evidence from the Scottish Longitudinal Study 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? Yes
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Policy initiatives in relation to teenage pregnancies tend to focus on factors that affect rates of conception. There has been less focus on the social, economic and health outcomes for young parents. This information is not readily available from routine sources. The Scottish Longitudinal Study (SLS) allows us to identify young people who become young parents between the 1991 census and the 2001 census and relate this to their health and social status at 2001.

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Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2010
URL http://calls.ac.uk/output-entry/teenage-parents-in-scotland-1991-to-2001-evidence-from-the-scottish-...
 
Description The Economic Impact of Return Migrants to Scotland: Evidence from the Scottish Longitudinal Study 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? Yes
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Policymakers/Parliamentarians
Results and Impact Presentation to Demography Analytical Working Group, Scottish Government

Section not completed
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2009
 
Description Utility of synthetic microdata generated using tree-based methods (Privacy in Statistical Databases Conference 2016) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact Raised awareness and interest in methods and software (R package synthpop) for producing synthetic data, which are developed in the ADRC-S.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL http://unescoprivacychair.urv.cat/psd2016/index.php?m=program
 
Description What is the impact of selective migration on the widening mortality gap in Greater Glasgow? 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? Yes
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact The mortality gap between the least and most deprived areas in Greater Glasgow has widened in recent years. Over the same period Greater Glasgow's most deprived areas have seen a significant loss of population, and it has been suggested, therefore, that the widening mortality gap could be, in part, due to internal migration of healthier and wealthier individuals away from these areas rather than a relative worsening of health per se in them. We explore whether this is the case using linked census data from the Scottish Longitudinal Study.

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Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2010
URL http://calls.ac.uk/output-entry/what-is-the-impact-of-selective-migration-on-the-widening-mortality-...