Objectives To describe the process and outcomes of a data linkage between electronic secondary mental healthcare records from the South London and Maudsley (SLaM) NHS Foundation Trust with benefits records from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). We also describe the mental health and benefit profile of patients who were successfully linked. Design A deterministic linkage of routine records from health and welfare government service providers within a secure environment. Setting and participants Adults aged≥18 years who were referred to or accessed treatment at SLaM services between January 2007 and June 2019, including those who were treated as part of Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) services between January 2008 and June 2019 (n=448 404). Benefits data from the DWP from January 2005 to June 2020. Outcome measures The linkage rate and associated sociodemographic, diagnostic and treatment factors. Recorded primary psychiatric diagnosis based on International Classification of Diseases (ICD)-10 codes and type of benefit receipt. Results A linkage rate of 92.3% was achieved. Women, younger patients and those from ethnic minority groups were less likely to be successfully linked. Patients who had subsequently died, had a recorded primary psychiatric diagnosis, had also engaged with IAPT and had a higher number of historical postcodes available were more likely to be linked. Overall, 83% of patients received benefits at some point between 2005 and 2020. Benefit receipt across the psychiatric diagnosis spectrum was high, over 80% across most ICD-10 codes. Conclusions This data linkage is the first of its kind in the UK demonstrating the use of routinely collected mental health and benefits data. Benefit receipt was high among patients accessing SLaM services and varied by psychiatric diagnosis. Future areas of research are discussed, including exploring the effectiveness of interventions for helping people into work and the impact of benefit reforms.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere067136
JournalBMJ Open
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 15 Feb 2023


  • Epidemiology
  • Public health


Dive into the research topics of 'Linking electronic mental healthcare and benefits records in South London: design, procedure and descriptive outcomes'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this