Data record linkage is the process whereby we determine if a record in one file matches to one or several records in another file. Currently, the Texas Cancer Registry (TCR) uses software called Link PlusTM that enables users to perform both deterministic and probabilistic linkages. In addition to linking on exact matches between records, probabilistic linkage can also match records which aren’t perfect matches on all variables, such as when 2 digits in a social security number are transposed.
Requests for data linkages follow the TCR process for requesting confidential data: https://www.dshs.texas.gov/tcr/irb.shtm
Data provided to the TCR must include appropriate fields to conduct a linkage. This includes Last Name, First Name, Middle Name/Initial (if available), Maiden Name (if available), Date of Birth, Sex, and Social Security (if available).
In the data file you provide to TCR, all parts of the name must be stored in separate fields. Date of birth should be formatted as yyyymmdd, and social security number should be formatted without dashes as 123456789.
For additional information about data record linkages or if you would like to have a record linkage done with your data, please contact the TCR Epidemiology Group at CancerData@dshs.state.tx.us, 1-800-252-8059 (in Texas), or 512-776-3080 (outside of Texas).