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Comment & Response
December 5, 2018

When One Data Set Is Insufficient—Things to Consider When Linking Secondary Data

Author Affiliations
  • 1Division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Department of Surgery, Keck School of Medicine of University of Southern California, Los Angeles
  • 2Health Services Research and Development, West Los Angeles Department of Veterans Affairs, Los Angeles, California
  • 3Department of Surgery, University of California, Los Angeles
JAMA Surg. Published online December 5, 2018. doi:10.1001/jamasurg.2018.4750

To the Editor In the June issue of JAMA Surgery, health services research experts outlined common secondary data sets and provided a checklist to guide researchers when analyzing these data.1 However, a single data set is often insufficient to answer many research questions appropriately. This may be because the data set (1) does not have enough information to control for confounding variables (eg, administrative claims data without enough clinical information), (2) does not include data over multiple clinical encounters (eg, hospitalization data sets without any patient follow-up information), or (3) was collected for a different purpose than the research question (eg, utilization data without clinical information).

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