Obtaining data linkage consent for children: factors influencing outcomes and potential biases

Publication type

Journal Article


Publication date

June 1, 2016


Understanding factors associated with consent for data linkage has largely focussed on adults, but parents or guardians can also be asked to consent on behalf of children for whom they are responsible. A framework for consent decision is presented, and is tested using a large nationally representative survey asking mothers to consent for both themselves and their children for two sets of records. Nearly all mothers give the same consent outcome for all their children. Consent rates are higher for education records than for health records and higher for mothers than children. Multivariate analyses suggest that minorities are generally less likely to consent, while more trust increases chances of consent. Several survey environment factors are important, with harder-to-contact respondents less likely to consent, while the presence of others and higher interviewer-respondent rapport lead to a higher chance of consent. These findings suggest potential methodologies to improve consent rates and possibly minimise bias. This is important given significant demographic differences between children across consent outcomes. However, data from a survey of 10–15 year olds in the study shows fewer differences for several important behaviours and attitudes across consent outcomes.

Published in

International Journal of Social Research Methodology

Volume and page numbers

Volume: 19 , p.623 -643








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