1. Linking suicide prevention programs to external data systems may enable longer-term assessment of suicide outcomes from such programs.
2. The lack of data dictionaries and adherence to standard data serve as current limitations to this strategy.
Evidence Rating Level: 1 (Excellent)
Study Rundown: Suicide rates have increased by 24% from 1999 through 2014; this increase has been greatest within the youth population. Currently, it has been difficult to evaluate the effectiveness of long-term prevention efforts due to the difficulty of conducting follow-up with such a large population. Data systems may play a key role in solving this problem. Specifically, linking existing data from prevention studies to data systems that include suicidal behaviour outcomes could help determine the efficacy of interventions in preventing suicide. In this systematic literature review, the authors provided a summary of ongoing research limitations, barriers, gaps and opportunities for future data linkage approaches to enhance suicide prevention efforts. In general, the authors found that only 6 out of 47 suicide prevention studies analyzed were linked to data systems, while 153 unique and potentially linkable data systems were identified. However, only 66 of these data systems were classified as “fairly accessible” and included data dictionaries. The main limitation of this study was its language restriction; only U.S. based studies published in English were included. Overall, the results from this study suggest that linking suicide prevention data with existing data systems may be an untapped resource to conduct long-term evaluations.
In-Depth [systematic review]: The authors used a full set of key questions and search strategies, including inclusion/exclusion criteria, to conduct their systematic review and extract relevant data. Overall, 47 studies were included in the analysis. The study addressed the key question, “What national, state, and community data systems can be linked to existing data from prevention efforts in order to add possible value for stakeholders?” Of the 153 data systems identified in the study, 71% included data on suicide, 54% data on suicide attempts, and 29% on suicidal ideation. The data systems were then classified into 3 tiers of accessibility to determine those that could be linked to current data from suicide prevention programs. Using this classification, 121 data systems were identified as fairly accessible (with 66 having an available data dictionary), 20 were identified as potentially accessible, and more information was needed for 12.
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