Session 6: Data Hubs and Platforms

By Rebecca Musgrove and Lana Bojanić.

Big data and suicide and self-harm prevention

Professor Ann John, Swansea University.

Prof John talked about the potential and challenges of using big data and routine records in suicide and self-harm research.  In particular she highlighted the SAIL databank which provides data linkage to a number of datasets across Wales and the Clinical Practice Research Datalink (CPRD) that provides data linkage between Primary Care Settings and other relevant datasets in the UK. She highlighted the opportunities to identify people who may be lost to follow up in cohort studies, or those with adverse outcomes that may be less likely to participate in studies. Alongside that she outlined some of the challenges of using data that has not been collected for the purpose of research, around definitions and the validation of records. For example see this article on validation of Suicide and Self Harm records in the CPRD by Thomas et al (2013).

@mental_elf on twitter summarised Prof John’s talk nicely.


Self-harm data at NHSD: Availability, data access and support

Dan Collinson, NHS Digital.

After earlier discussions about the importance of timely access to data, Dan Collinson from NHS Digital presented an overview of the data held by NHS Digital on mental health and self-harm and how to go about accessing it. The core data sets that they hold are the Mental Health Services Dataset (MHSDS), Hospital Episode Statistics (HES), the Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Surveys (presented earlier by Sally McManus) and the Mental Health of Children and Young People’s survey (discussed earlier by Prof Ford). He also talked about linkage work that is being carried out, including links between the MHSDS and the Maternity dataset. He talked about the DARS process and encouraged researchers to get in touch with priorities for linkage. The process has become more complex, and lengthier, since the introduction of GPDR.  Dan said he was very open to talking to people about the data and encouraged people to make use of the available data.  Details below:


Suicide Prevention Profiles: Fingertips

Helen Garnham & Cam Lugton, Public Health England.

The final presentation focused on the Public Health England Fingertips tool for Suicide Prevention.  The tool shows publically available data related to suicide and risk factors.  Their plans to develop this further include updating life years lost measures and exploring the best approaches to presentation of suicide rates by age and gender at a local level. 

They also discussed local prevention plans and the types of local surveillance, coroner lead and police lead that have been adopted. Her slide below summarises the benefits and challenges of using these data:


Professor Louise Arseneault finished the day with the words that stood out to her across the day. GDPR, need, voice, trends, big, profile, harmonisation, story, gap, challenges & love “we love data!”


Rebecca Musgrove (@beckymus) is currently researching for a PhD in Epidemiology with a focus on suicide and self-harm for people who have recently been discharged from mental health inpatient care. She is also a Senior Analyst in Mental Health at NHS England (Rebecca.musgrove@postgrad.manchester.ac.uk).

Lana Bojanić (@BojanicLana) has a Master’s degree in psychology and is a Research Assistant at the National Confidential Inquiry into Suicide and Safety in Mental Health, University of Manchester (lana.bojanic-2@manchester.ac.uk).


Featured Image: Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

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