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Research involving Data and Data Linkage



HSC R&D Division funds a range of research infrastructure to support the enhanced use of routinely collected data for research purposes. These include:


Other resources funded by other organisations include:


Honest Broker Service (HBS)

The Business Services Organisation has been asked to set up an Honest Broker Service (HBS) for Health and Social Care (HSC).

The HBS will enable the provision of anonymised, aggregated and in some cases pseudonymised health and social care data to the DoH (NI), HSC organisations and for anonymised data for ethically approved health and social care related research.

An Honest Broker Governance Board will ensure good Information Governance and that data will be provided in line with Data Protection, Confidentiality Requirements and the Information Commissioners Office Codes of Practice.

The aim is to enable non-identifiable data to be shared within HSC to maximise the uses and health service benefits which can be gained from it including planning, commissioning of services and public health monitoring.

A “Memorandum of Understanding” (MOU) on the scope and operation of the Honest Broker Service has been agreed by all HSC bodies. For further details please email

The service is open to:

  • DoH
  • HSC Organisations which have signed up to the Memorandum of Understanding
  • Researchers with ethical approval


Enhanced Prescribing Database (EPD)

The Enhanced Prescribing Database (EPD) is held within the Business Services Organisation (BSO) and contains detailed information in relation to all primary care prescriptions dispensed in Northern Ireland since March 2008.   A statistician is supported by HSC R&D Division funding to facilitate the use of the EPD for research purposes.

The database has proven to be a rich source of information on the morbidity of the population in Northern Ireland and its analysis has allowed the investigation of prescribing of many types of medications including antidepressants, antibiotics and anti-diabetic drugs. The research undertaken often utilises links to other HSC datasets and/or census data through the NILS, thus providing further depth and quality to the knowledge gained.


Northern Ireland Cancer Registry

The N. Ireland Cancer Registry was established in May 1994.  It is located in the Centre for Public Health, Queen's University Belfast and is funded by the Public Health Agency for Northern Ireland.

The N. Ireland Cancer Registry is the official producer of cancer incidence and survival statistics in Northern Ireland.