Why Probabilistic Linkage?

rev. 04/25/2012
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An ambulance, a car accident, and money.The purpose of probabilistic record linkage is to combine multiple databases into one extensive database for analysis.

Ever wondered what effect safety belt usage has on the amount of money spent on hospital admission?

Or perhaps, does size appropriate splinting in the pre-hospital setting reduce hospital admissions, lengths of stay, and charges for persons injured in motor vehicle crashes?

In most cases the answers for these problems are rarely contained in one database. A researcher must therefore start from scratch, building a new database where patients are asked if they were wearing a safety belt when they are admitted or follow a patient from the point of splinting, to the emergency department, and finally determine if the patient was admitted. One can imagine that building these databases can be expensive in terms of time and money.

However, if one can find existing databases, such as a motor vehicle crash database collected by police agencies and a hospital discharge database collected by the hospital association, then probabilistic record linkage is a tool that can be used to join the two databases and provide a more comprehensive picture of the event.

Probabilistic record linkage has been used on a national level to: