The amount of data researchers receive and how it's structured depends on the number of data files and fields requested, the number of years requested, and the size of the requested cohort.
Researchers receive the data as multiple files, not as a database. For example, a request for data from MSP, PharmaCare and Hospital Separations, spanning calendar years 1996 to 2000, would generally result in a separate file for each program area in each year (15 files in total). Each record is allocated a non-meaningful project-specific study identification number to enable identification of records belonging to the same individual across program areas and years.
Data are provided as ASCII flat files, as this format can be imported into a wide variety of software programs for analysis.
In addition to the data, researchers receive a data layout and data dictionary for each file. The data layout contains the length, start position, and end position of each field in your requested data file. The data dictionary provides coding information that will assist in interpreting the data.
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