The utility of medico-legal databases for public health research

A systematic review of peer-reviewed publications using the National Coronial Information System

Research output: Contribution to journalReview ArticleResearchpeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Background: Medico-legal death investigations are a recognised data source for public health endeavours and its accessibility has increased following the development of electronic data systems. Despite time and cost savings, the strengths and limitations of this method and impact on research findings remain untested. This study examines this issue using the National Coronial Information System (NCIS). Methods: PubMed, ProQuest and Informit were searched to identify publications where the NCIS was used as a data source for research published during the period 2000-2014. A descriptive analysis was performed to describe the frequency and characteristics of the publications identified. A content analysis was performed to identify the nature and impact of strengths and limitations of the NCIS as reported by researchers. Results: Of the 106 publications included, 30 reported strengths and limitations, 37 reported limitations only, seven reported strengths only and 32 reported neither. The impact of the reported strengths of the NCIS was described in 14 publications, whilst 46 publications discussed the impacts of limitations. The NCIS was reported to be a reliable source of quality, detailed information with comprehensive coverage of deaths of interest, making it a powerful injury surveillance tool. Despite these strengths, researchers reported that open cases and missing information created the potential for selection and reporting biases and may preclude the identification and control of confounders. Conclusions: To ensure research results are valid and inform health policy, it is essential to consider and seek to overcome the limitations of data sources that may have an impact on results.

Original languageEnglish
Article number28
Number of pages10
JournalHealth Research Policy and Systems
Volume14
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 12 Apr 2016

Keywords

  • Coroners and medical examiners
  • Injury prevention
  • Mortality surveillance
  • National Coronial Information System Public health research

Cite this

@article{af9e02beb7c64e65a3f16658500e0f0e,
title = "The utility of medico-legal databases for public health research: A systematic review of peer-reviewed publications using the National Coronial Information System",
abstract = "Background: Medico-legal death investigations are a recognised data source for public health endeavours and its accessibility has increased following the development of electronic data systems. Despite time and cost savings, the strengths and limitations of this method and impact on research findings remain untested. This study examines this issue using the National Coronial Information System (NCIS). Methods: PubMed, ProQuest and Informit were searched to identify publications where the NCIS was used as a data source for research published during the period 2000-2014. A descriptive analysis was performed to describe the frequency and characteristics of the publications identified. A content analysis was performed to identify the nature and impact of strengths and limitations of the NCIS as reported by researchers. Results: Of the 106 publications included, 30 reported strengths and limitations, 37 reported limitations only, seven reported strengths only and 32 reported neither. The impact of the reported strengths of the NCIS was described in 14 publications, whilst 46 publications discussed the impacts of limitations. The NCIS was reported to be a reliable source of quality, detailed information with comprehensive coverage of deaths of interest, making it a powerful injury surveillance tool. Despite these strengths, researchers reported that open cases and missing information created the potential for selection and reporting biases and may preclude the identification and control of confounders. Conclusions: To ensure research results are valid and inform health policy, it is essential to consider and seek to overcome the limitations of data sources that may have an impact on results.",
keywords = "Coroners and medical examiners, Injury prevention, Mortality surveillance, National Coronial Information System Public health research",
author = "Lyndal Bugeja and Joseph Ibrahim and Noha Ferrah and Briony Murphy and Melissa Willoughby and David Ranson",
year = "2016",
month = "4",
day = "12",
doi = "10.1186/s12961-016-0096-1",
language = "English",
volume = "14",
journal = "Health Research Policy and Systems",
issn = "1478-4505",
publisher = "Springer-Verlag London Ltd.",
number = "1",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - The utility of medico-legal databases for public health research

T2 - A systematic review of peer-reviewed publications using the National Coronial Information System

AU - Bugeja, Lyndal

AU - Ibrahim, Joseph

AU - Ferrah, Noha

AU - Murphy, Briony

AU - Willoughby, Melissa

AU - Ranson, David

PY - 2016/4/12

Y1 - 2016/4/12

N2 - Background: Medico-legal death investigations are a recognised data source for public health endeavours and its accessibility has increased following the development of electronic data systems. Despite time and cost savings, the strengths and limitations of this method and impact on research findings remain untested. This study examines this issue using the National Coronial Information System (NCIS). Methods: PubMed, ProQuest and Informit were searched to identify publications where the NCIS was used as a data source for research published during the period 2000-2014. A descriptive analysis was performed to describe the frequency and characteristics of the publications identified. A content analysis was performed to identify the nature and impact of strengths and limitations of the NCIS as reported by researchers. Results: Of the 106 publications included, 30 reported strengths and limitations, 37 reported limitations only, seven reported strengths only and 32 reported neither. The impact of the reported strengths of the NCIS was described in 14 publications, whilst 46 publications discussed the impacts of limitations. The NCIS was reported to be a reliable source of quality, detailed information with comprehensive coverage of deaths of interest, making it a powerful injury surveillance tool. Despite these strengths, researchers reported that open cases and missing information created the potential for selection and reporting biases and may preclude the identification and control of confounders. Conclusions: To ensure research results are valid and inform health policy, it is essential to consider and seek to overcome the limitations of data sources that may have an impact on results.

AB - Background: Medico-legal death investigations are a recognised data source for public health endeavours and its accessibility has increased following the development of electronic data systems. Despite time and cost savings, the strengths and limitations of this method and impact on research findings remain untested. This study examines this issue using the National Coronial Information System (NCIS). Methods: PubMed, ProQuest and Informit were searched to identify publications where the NCIS was used as a data source for research published during the period 2000-2014. A descriptive analysis was performed to describe the frequency and characteristics of the publications identified. A content analysis was performed to identify the nature and impact of strengths and limitations of the NCIS as reported by researchers. Results: Of the 106 publications included, 30 reported strengths and limitations, 37 reported limitations only, seven reported strengths only and 32 reported neither. The impact of the reported strengths of the NCIS was described in 14 publications, whilst 46 publications discussed the impacts of limitations. The NCIS was reported to be a reliable source of quality, detailed information with comprehensive coverage of deaths of interest, making it a powerful injury surveillance tool. Despite these strengths, researchers reported that open cases and missing information created the potential for selection and reporting biases and may preclude the identification and control of confounders. Conclusions: To ensure research results are valid and inform health policy, it is essential to consider and seek to overcome the limitations of data sources that may have an impact on results.

KW - Coroners and medical examiners

KW - Injury prevention

KW - Mortality surveillance

KW - National Coronial Information System Public health research

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=84962863078&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1186/s12961-016-0096-1

DO - 10.1186/s12961-016-0096-1

M3 - Review Article

VL - 14

JO - Health Research Policy and Systems

JF - Health Research Policy and Systems

SN - 1478-4505

IS - 1

M1 - 28

ER -