Methodological Notes

Maternal and Child Health Journal

, Volume 18, Issue 9, pp 2025-2033

First online:

Linkage Methods for Connecting Children with Parents in Electronic Health Record and State Public Health Insurance Data

  • Heather AngierAffiliated withOregon Health & Science University Email author 
  • , Rachel GoldAffiliated withCenter for Health Research, Kaiser Permanente NorthwestOCHIN, Inc.
  • , Courtney CrawfordAffiliated withOregon Health & Science University
  • , Jean P. O’MalleyAffiliated withOregon Health & Science University
  • , Carrie J. TillotsonAffiliated withOregon Health & Science University
  • , Miguel MarinoAffiliated withOregon Health & Science University
  • , Jennifer E. DeVoeAffiliated withOregon Health & Science UniversityOCHIN, Inc.

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The objective of this study was to develop methodologies for creating child–parent ‘links’ in two healthcare-related data sources. We linked children and parents who were patients in a network of Oregon clinics with a shared electronic health record (EHR), using data that reported the child’s emergency contact information or the ‘guarantor’ for the child’s visits. We also linked children and parents enrolled in the Oregon Health Plan (OHP; Oregon’s public health insurance programs), using administrative data; here, we defined a ‘child’ as aged <19 years and identified potential ‘parents’ from among adults sharing the same OHP household identification (ID) number. In both data sources, parents had to be 12–55 years older than the child. We used OHP individual client ID and EHR patient ID numbers to assess the quality of our linkages through cross-validation. Of the 249,079 children in the EHR dataset, we identified 62,967 who had a ‘linkable’ parent with patient information in the EHR. In the OHP data, 889,452 household IDs were assigned to at least one child; 525,578 with a household ID had a ‘linkable’ parent (272,578 households). Cross-validation of linkages revealed 99.8 % of EHR links validated in OHP data and 97.7 % of OHP links validated in EHR data. The ability to link children and their parents in healthcare-related datasets will be useful to inform efforts to improve children’s health. Thus, we developed strategies for linking children with their parents in an EHR and a public health insurance administrative dataset.


Children Electronic health records Public health insurance Family