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Are Birth Certificate and Hospital Discharge Linkages Performed in 52 Jurisdictions in the United States?
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  • Alternative Title:
    Matern Child Health J
  • Description:

    The purpose of this study was to determine the number and characteristics of US State Registrars of Vital Statistics (Vital Registrars) and State Systems Development Initiative (SSDI) Coordinators that link birth certificate and hospital discharge data as well as using linkage processes.


    Vital Registrars and SSDI Coordinators in all 52 vital records jurisdictions (50 states, District of Columbia, and New York City) were asked to complete a 41-question survey. We examined frequency distributions among completed surveys using SAS 9.3.


    The response rate was 100 % (N = 52) for Vital Registrars and 96 % (N = 50) for SSDI Coordinators. Nearly half of Vital Registrars (n = 22) and SSDI Coordinators (n = 23) reported that their jurisdiction linked birth certificate and hospital discharge records at least once in the last 4 years. Among those who link, the majority of Vital Registrars (77.3 %) and SSDI Coordinators (82.6 %) link both maternal and infant hospital discharge records to the birth certificate. Of those who do not link, 43 % of the Vital Registrars and 55 % of SSDI Coordinators reported an interest in linking birth certificate and hospital discharge data. Reasons for not linking included lack of staff time, inability to access raw data, high cost, and unavailability of personal identifiers to link the two sources.


    Results of our analysis provide a national perspective on data linkage practices in the US. Our findings can be used to promote further data linkages, facilitate sharing of data and linkage methodologies, and identify uses of the resulting linked data.

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