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The Administrative Data Research Network is an ESRC-funded project that ran from October 2013 - July 2018. It is currently at the end of its funding cycle and is no longer taking applications. Administrative data research will be taken forward in a new project, to be launched later in 2018.

Scottish Morbidity, 1981-

Title Details

Scottish Morbidity, 1981-
Principal investigator(s):
Information Services Division - NHS National Services Scotland
Data collector(s):
Information Services Division - NHS National Services Scotland (SMR01, SMR04, SMR06); National Records of Scotland (Death Records)

Subject Categories

  • Health services and medical care - Health


  • Abstract copyright ADRN.

    The Scottish Morbidity Database (SMR) consists of the following datasets linked together:

    • 1981 onwards: SMR01 – Episode level data on acute hospital admissions.
    • 1981 onwards: SMR04 – Episode level data on psychiatric admissions.
    • 1980 onwards: SMR06 – Cancer registrations.
    • 1980 onwards: National Records of Scotland Death Records.

    The datasets are permanently linked together and continuously updated allowing a more comprehensive overview of aspects of their health and NHS healthcare. Records relating to the same person are held together in patient groups. There are over 37 million records held in the database.

    The Scottish Morbidity Database covers all patients in Scotland with non-obstetric hospital admissions together with any cancer registration and corresponding death records. The ISD holds data from 1980 onwards. Some of the datasets began prior to this time. The Scottish Morbidity Database is continuously updated when new records or episodes are generated.

    The dataset is part of a wide range of health related administrative data collected by the Information Services Division (ISD), on behalf of the NHS National Services Scotland (part of NHS Scotland). ISD has been the authoritative source of Scottish national healthcare statistics for over 50 years. The data is used to enhance decisions about Scottish health care to improve the health of the people of Scotland. ISD is part of the SHIP (ScottisH Informatics Programme), a Scotland wide research platform for the collation, management, dissemination and analysis of Electronic Patient Records. As part of SHIP, ISD delivers Electronic Data Research and Innovation Service (eDRIS), a one stop shop for health research designed to provide a single point of contact and to assist researchers in study design, approvals and data (non-patient or patient identifiable) access in a secure environment (the NSS National Safe Haven).

    The Scottish Morbidity Database data quality is of a high standard and is well populated with patients CHI numbers to allow for effective linkage to other data sources. The ISD Data Quality Assurance team is responsible for and ensuring SMR datasets are accurate, consistent and comparable across time and between sources. Information on the completeness and timeliness of all hospital activity SMR datasets is available in the Documentation section.

    In April 1996 diagnostic codes changed from ICD9 to ICD10. Further information on ICD10 is available in the Documentation section.

    Research Usage and Linkage

    The Scottish Morbidity Database is used by NHS Scotland and the Scottish Government for planning, epidemiology, provision of service and providing comparative information to help improve efficiencies in health care services. The database is an extremely useful research tool for looking at patient pathways and follow-up, such as readmission to hospital and survival. Its public health uses also include looking at co-morbidity and relationships between diseases. The database also has the potential to be used to estimate the incidence and prevalence for a wide range of diseases involving hospital admission and/or death.

    The different datasets held in the Scottish Morbidity Database are linked together by ISD. Records are updated continuously using a combination of deterministic and probability matching.

    The Scottish Morbidity Database and the Maternity and Neonatal Linked Database can be linked together. In this way, those patients with a particular diagnosis or any other event that might be of interest can be linked to either of these databases to identify other previous or subsequent hospital activity such as admissions, deaths, cancers and pregnancies.

    The Scottish Morbidity Database is also linked to the Scottish Health Survey and approximately 92% of survey respondents have given their consent to link to their health records. A variety of different linked datasets are available. An example of research using the linked Scottish Health Survey to the Scottish Morbidity Database is given in Gray et al. (2010).

Coverage, universe, methodology

Time period:
1981 -
Observation units:
Events and processes
Kind of data:
Individual (micro) level
All patients in Scotland with non-obstetric hospital admissions together with any cancer registration and corresponding death records (generally) from 1980.

Time dimensions:
Repeated cross-sectional study
Sampling procedures:
No sampling (total universe)
Number of units:
Over 37 million records
Method of data collection:

Compilation or synthesis of existing material

Composed of several datasets, which are permanently linked together and continuously updated when new records or episodes are generated.  Records relating to the same person are held together in patient groups.

Frequency of release:
Data Updated:

Administrative and access information

Crown copyright
Access conditions:
Contact the Network



By principal investigator(s):

  • ISD Scotland (2007) Using the Linked Scottish Health Survey to Predict Hospitalisation & Death., ISD Scotland.
  • Scottish Health Informatics Programme (2012) A Blueprint for Health Records Research in Scotland, Scottish Health Informatics Programme.

Resulting from secondary analysis:

  • Stockton, D., Doherty, V.R., Brewster, D.H. (2001) 'Risk of cancer in patients with dermatomyositis or polymyositis, and follow-up implications:', British Journal of Cancer, 85(1), pp. 41-45. 10.1054/bjoc.2001.1699
  • Stewart, S., McIntyre, K., Capewell, S., McMurray, J.J.V. (2002) 'Heart failure in a cold climate:', Journal of the American College of Cardiology, 39(5), pp. 760-766.
  • Stark, C., MacLeod, M., Hall, D., O'Brien, F., Pelosi, A. (2003) 'Mortality after discharge from long-term psychiatric care in Scotland, 1977 - 94:', BMC Public Health, 3(30). 10.1186/1471-2458-3-30
  • Murphy, N.F., Stewart, S., MacIntyre, K., Capewell, S., McMurray, J.J.V. (2004) 'Seasonal variation in morbidity and mortality related to atrial fibrillation', International Journal of Cardiology, 97(2), pp. 283-288. 10.1016/j.ijcard.2004.03.041
  • Brewster, D.H., Stockton, D.L., Dobbie, R., Bull, D., Beral, V. (2005) 'Risk of breast cancer after miscarriage or induced abortion:', Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health, 59, pp. 283-287.
  • Parker, M.C., Wilson, M.S., Menzies, D., Sunderland, G., Clark, D.N., Knight, A.D., Crowe, A.M. (2005) 'The SCAR-3 study:', Colorectal Disease, 7(6), pp. 551-558. 10.1111/j.1463-1318.2005.00857.x
  • Parker, M.C., Wilson, M.S., Menzies, D., Sunderland, G., Thimpson, J.N., Clark, D.N., Knight, A.D., Crowe, A.M. (2005) 'Colorectal surgery:', Colorectal Disease, 6(6), pp. 506-511.
  • MacDonald, A., Straughn, J., Sutton, M. (2006) Healthy life expectancy measurement in Scotland, Institute and Faculty of Actuaries.
  • Grant, H.W., Parker, M.C., Wilson, M.S., Menzies, D., Sunderland, G., Thompson, J.N., Clark, D.N., Knight, A.D., Crowe, A., Ellis, H. (2006) 'Population-based analysis of the risk of adhesion-related readmissions after abdominal surgery in children', Journal of Pediatric Surgery, 41(8), pp. 1453-1456. 10.1016/j.jpedsurg.2006.04.023
  • Camidge, D.R., Stockton, D.L., Frame, S., Wood, R., Bain, M., Bateman, D.N. (2007) 'Hospital admissions and deaths relating to deliberate self-harm and accidents within 5 years of a cancer diagnosis:', British Journal of Cancer, 96, pp. 752 - 757. 10.1038/sj.bjc.6603617
  • Fischbacher, C.M., Bhopal, R., Povey, C., Steiner, M., Chalmers, J., Mueller, G., Jamieson, J., Knowles, D. (2007) 'Record linked retrospective cohort study of 4.6 million people exploring ethnic variations in disease:', BMC Public Health, 7(142). 10.1186/1471-2458-7-142
  • Ford, I., Murray, H., Packard, C.J., Sherpherd, J., Macfarlane, P.W., Cobbe, S.M. (2007) 'Long-Term Follow-up of the West of Scotland Coronary Prevention Study', New England Journal of Medicine, 357(15), pp. 1477-1486. 10.1056/NEJMoa065994
  • Hanlon, P., Lawder, R., Elders, A., Clark, D., Walsh, D., Whyte, B., Sutton, M. (2007) 'An analysis of the link between behavioural, biological and social risk factors and subsequent hospital admission in Scotland', Journal of Public Health, 29(4), pp. 405-412. doi:10.1093/pubmed/fdm062
  • Lewsey, J.D., Gillies, M., Jhund, P.S., Chalmers, J.W.T., Redpath, A., Briggs, A., Walters, M., Langhorne, P., Capewell, S., McMurray, J.J.V, MacIntyre, K. (2009) 'Sex Differences in Incidence, Mortality, and Survival in Individuals With Stroke in Scotland, 1986 to 2005', Stroke, 40(4), pp. 1038-1043. 10.1161/STROKEAHA.108.542787
  • McDonald, S., Hutchinson, S.J., Bird, S.M., Graham, L., Robertson, C., Mills, P.R., Hayes, P., Dillon, J.F., Goldberg, D.J. (2009) 'Association of self-reported alcohol use and hospitalization for an alcohol-related cause in Scotland:', Addiction, 104(4), pp. 593-602. 10.1111/j.1360-0443.2009.02497.x
  • Grant, H.W., Parker, M.C., Wilson, M.S., Menzies, D., Sunderland, G., Thompson, J.N., Clark, D.N., Knight, A.D., Crowe, A., Ellis, H. (2009) 'Adhesions after abdominal surgery in children', Journal of Pediatric Surgery, 43(1), pp. 152-157. 10.1016/j.jpedsurg.2007.09.038
  • Gray, L., Batty, G.D., Craig, P., Stewart, C., Whyte, B., Finlayson, A., Leyland, A.H. (2010) 'Cohort Profile: The Scottish Health Surveys Cohort:', International Journal of Epidemiology, 39(2), pp. 345-350. 10.1093/ije/dyp155
  • Nicholls, R.J., Clark, D.N., Kelso, L., Crowe, A.M., Knight, A.D., Hodgkins, P., Satsangi, J. (2010) 'Nationwide linkage analysis in Scotland implicates age as the critical overall determinant of mortality in ulcerative colitis', Alimentary Pharmacology & Therapeutics, 31(12), pp. 1310-1321. 10.1111/j.1365-2036.2010.04302.x
  • de Oliveira, C., Watt, R., Hamer, M. (2010) 'Toothbrushing, inflammation, and risk of cardiovascular disease:', British Medical Journal, 340. doi:
  • Bhopal, R., Fischbacher, C., Povey, C., Chalmers, J., Mueller, G., Steiner, M., Brown, H., Brewster, D.H., Bansal, N. (2011) 'Cohort Profile:', International Journal of Epidemiology, 40, pp. 1168-1175. 10.1093/ije/dyq118
  • Dibben, C., Atherton, I., Doherty, J., Baldacchino, A. (2011) 'Differences in 5-year survival after a 'homeless' or 'housed' drugs-related hospital admission:', Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health. 10.1136/jech.2009.101352
  • Evans, J., Atherton, I., Dibben, C.J.L., Hubbard, G. (2011) 'The health and well-being of people with a previous diagnosis of cancer:', Journal of Public Health and Epidemiology, 3(10), pp. 429-432.
  • Kennedy, N.A., Clark, D.N., Bauer, J., Crowe, A.M., Knight, A.D., Nicholls, R.J., Satsangi, J. (2011) 'Nationwide linkage analysis in Scotland to assess mortality following hospital admission for Crohn's disease:', Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics, 35(1), pp. 142-153. 10.1111/j.1365-2036.2011.04906.x
  • Lawder, R., Grant, I., Storey, C., Walsh, D., Whyte, D., Hanlon, P. (2011) 'Epidemiology of hospitalization due to alcohol-related harm:', Public Health, 125(8), pp. 533-539.
  • McDonald, S.A., Hutchinson, S.J., Bird, S.M., Robertson, C., Mills, P.R., Dillon, J.F., Goldberg, D.J. (2011) 'Hospitalisation for an alcohol-related cause among injecting drug users in Scotland:', International Journal of Drug Policy, 22(1), pp. 63-69. 10.1016/j.drugpo.2011.05.010
  • Williamson, A.E. (2011) Patients repeatedly removed from GP lists:, PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.
  • Atherton, I.M., Evans, J.M.M., Dibben, C.J.L., Woods, L.M., Hubbard, G. (2012) 'Differences in self-assessed health by socioeconomic group amongst people with and without a history of cancer:', Journal of Cancer Survivorship, 6(4), pp. 458-467. 10.1007/s11764-012-0226-x
  • McFarlane, H.J., Girdwood, L., Bhaskar, A., Clark, D., Webster, N.R. (2012) 'The influence of surgery on the onset of symptomatic coronary artery disease', Anaesthesia, 67(2), pp. 110-114. 10.1111/j.1365-2044.2011.07019.x
  • Teckle, P., Hannaford, P., Sutton, M. (2012) 'Is the health of people living in rural areas different from those in cities?', BMC Health Services Research, 12(43). 10.1186/1472-6963-12-43
  • Gillies, M., Jhund, P.S., MacTeague, K., MacIntyre, P., Allardyce, J., Batty, G.D., MacIntyre K. (2012) 'Prior psychiatric hospitalization is associated with excess mortality in patients hospitalized with non-cardiac chest pain:', European Heart Journal, 33(6), pp. 760-767. 10.1093/eurheartj/ehr401

Page last updated: 20/09/2017