UK Biobank has reached another major milestone – with data about participants’ hospital admissions now available for research.
The Hospital Episodes Statistics – HES – provide detail about the reason why participants have been admitted to hospital, or attended as an outpatient. It includes coded data about their time in hospital, including operations and diagnoses.
Like all other information collected by UK Biobank, the data will not be provided to scientists in ways that could identify individual participants.
The current data release covers hospitals in England for admissions between April 2006 and March 2011. Data for the period prior to this (back to 1997) and data from Scotland and Wales will be available in the coming months.
Information about people’s hospital stays is collected by the NHS for a wide range of reasons – such as to support healthcare, improve treatments and to help the health authorities plan ahead.
But it is also very valuable to health researchers, particularly, as in the case of UK Biobank, when it can be viewed alongside other detailed information provided by participants.
“We are doing all that we can to make UK Biobank as valuable as it can be to health researchers,” said Dr Cathie Sudlow, UK Biobank Chief Scientist. “HES data is crucial to provide scientists with as full a picture as possible of the health and wellbeing of our participants as we follow them over time.
“Access to data on the number and types of health conditions that people develop will allow scientists to start asking why some people get particular illnesses and others do not. This will allow us to improve the health of future generations.”
Data about the re-assessment of 20,000 participants are now also available. Re-assessments are a vital part of the scientific process because they allow scientists to build a picture of how health and lifestyle changes over time. They also allow scientists to take into account a statistical bias known as ‘regression dilution’ which can affect results if not properly accounted for.
Visit the UK Biobank Data Showcase.