Project PEDS09

Rapid Review Barriers to access, linkage and use of local authority data

A rapid systematic review of published and grey literature to better understand barriers to linkage and use of local authority data.


It is widely recognised that improving data access, sharing and integration across local authorities and other agencies can contribute to improvements in population health. Whilst progress is being made to achieve integration of health and social care data, issues still exist in creating such a system. As part of wider work to create the Cambridge Child Health Informatics and Linked Data (Cam-CHILD) database, we undertook a systematic review of the literature to better understand barriers to linkage and use of local authority data. Understanding the barriers faced in accessing and linking LA data is an important step towards developing solutions to its more efficient use.

Project aims

The primary aim of this review was to examine reported barriers to the access, linkage and use of such data. A greater understanding of these barriers is important as we embark on the process of bringing together data from a variety of sources.  It will also enable others involved in such initiatives to develop effective and locally driven solutions for use of local authority data.

This review sought to answer the following questions:

  1. What are the key barriers to accessing, linking and using local authority data for population health research, practice and policy?
  2. Do these barriers differ depending on the intended use of the data?
  3. To what extent has data successfully been used to improve population health or address inequalities in the UK
  4. Are there any examples of particularly good practice?

Project activity 

A systematic literature search was conducted of scientific databases and the grey literature. Any publications reporting original research related to barriers or enablers of data linkage of-or-with local authority data in the United Kingdom were included. Barriers relating to the following issues were extracted from each paper: funding, fragmentation, legal and ethical frameworks, cultural issues, geographical boundaries, technical, capacity, data quality, security, and patient and public trust.


  • This project is now complete and a publication has been accepted in the journal BMC Public Health.

Who was involved

  • Principal investigator: Sowmiya Moorthie (University of Cambridge)
  • Anna Moore (University of Cambridge/CPFT)
  • Katherine Parkin (University of Cambridge)
  • Shabina Hayat (University of Cambridge)
  • Yi Zhang (University of Cambridge)
  • Tamsin Ford (University of Cambridge
  • Robbie Duschinsky (University of Cambridge)

Contact us 

Sowmiya Moorthie


This work was conducted as part of the TIMELY project MH05 being led by Anna Moore