Data linkage

What is data linkage?

Linkage allows information on an individual from one data source to be linked to information on the same individual from another data source. Using the linked data makes it possible to gain a more comprehensive understanding than could be obtained from either data source individually.

Linkage can also be used for conducting longitudinal analyses within the same data source, even when identifying information is recorded inconsistently, incompletely or has changed over time.

Linkage of data across sectors, such as health, education, early childhood development, workplace and the environment, helps us to understand the complex interplay of influences on human health, well-being and development. Such research informs related policy-making and investment decisions for healthier communities.

PopData holdings

Population Data BC (PopData) holds individual-level, de-identified, longitudinal data on British Columbia’s 4.6 million residents. These data are linkable to each other and to external data sets, where approved by the data provider.

PopData has legally binding data sharing agreements (such as Information Sharing Agreements and data directives) with various data providers, such as the BC Ministry of Health and the BC Cancer Agency. These agreements allow PopData to hold their data files. With the support of the data provider, adhering to the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA) and following the strict guidelines of the data sharing agreement, PopData has the authorization to link records that refer to the same individual across time and between various data sources and data sets. 

PopData is permitted to make these data available to eligible researchers for approved research projects as specified by a legally binding Research Agreement between the Researcher and the data provider(s). 

Researchers may also request permission from a data providers to link  their data to an external data source not held by PopData (such as data collected by the researcher or data from a Public Body that does not have a data sharing agreement with PopData).  

The approach to data linkage outlined on these pages allows for security and consistency in the linking of data across multiple data sets, disciplinary areas, time periods and projects, resulting in a high quality research product.


Page last revised: December 7, 2016