BLOG - Reflecting on the ADR UK Conference: Insights from our new PhD Researchers

Earlier in November, our new colleagues Yusuff Adebayo Adebisi and Mridhula Gopalan from the University of Glasgow went to the ADR UK 2023 conference in Birmingham. The conference theme was "Public Data for Resilience and Inclusion: Using Administrative Data to Inform Policy and Practice in Challenging Times." Here they share their reflections and key takeaways.


Attending the conference was an enlightening experience, showcasing how administrative data (often an underutilized resource) is now at the forefront of shaping effective social and health policies. One of the most exciting aspects of the conference was seeing the diverse ways in which scientists are leveraging administrative data for epidemiological research. This research is not just academic in nature but has real-world implications, contributing to both social and health outcomes by generating reliable, evidence-based insights.

The sessions I participated in were particularly revealing, especially around how administrative data is being used to assess the impact of various interventions. This is crucial for understanding what works and what does not in policy and program implementation. These sessions highlighted the use of this data to generate evidence to address health and social disparities facing vulnerable and marginalized populations. This includes people who use drugs, individuals experiencing homelessness, and groups like young people, pregnant women and children. Such insights are invaluable for creating targeted, effective policies that address the specific needs and challenges of these groups.

In line with this, my own PhD research focuses on health inequalities using administrative data. It aims to quantify the risk of severe COVID-19 outcomes with respect to household living conditions among a key vulnerable group in Scotland: people with disabilities. This study aims to enhance our understanding of how the pandemic affects this key population by using epidemiological survival models. It focuses on improving responses to the current pandemic and preparing for future public health emergencies.

A recurring theme throughout the conference was the need for further enhancement of the quality, accessibility, and usage of public sector data. There is a growing recognition that improving these aspects can lead to more effective policymaking and practice in the UK and globally. By ensuring that high-quality data is accessible and used appropriately, we can better understand societal needs and craft policies that are both effective and inclusive. The hope is that with continued focus and effort, the use of public sector data can be further strengthened, ultimately leading to more informed and effective policies.



The opportunity to attend the ADR UK conference was a great way to meet everyone who works within SCADR and the wider research community, along with other first year PhD students in a similar situation to us! The first day was the day of the pre-conference workshops. One of the highlights was a workshop focused on maximizing the impact of research using data linkage of routine data. We discussed the best ways in which research could impact policy, how we might involve stakeholders earlier in the process and how talking to different groups of people may shape the research process by giving different perspectives. It was interesting to hear how researchers can have an impact on policy and make a difference to people’s lives.

The next couple of days had engaging presentations on various topics of research. I found the presentations on the linkage of mental health records with benefits data really interesting, as this topic aligns with my PhD research on work, welfare, and health. It was good to have the opportunity to connect with these researchers and make some contacts, all of which is very useful in the early stages of the PhD journey. The poster presentations were a great aspect of the conference which showcased the diverse applications of administrative data. Some of the sponsors of the conference also had posters and it was good to talk to them about their thoughts on the future of administrative data and the efforts towards making it more accessible for researchers to use.



Overall, the event was an excellent venue for getting to know everyone and engaging in meaningful conversations about their research. Despite the initial overwhelming feeling of being only a month into a PhD, the welcoming and friendly atmosphere quickly put us at ease. The conference was more than just an academic gathering; it was a celebration of the vibrant and impactful research happening using administrative data. It served as a reminder of the role we, as emerging researchers, can play in this domain and towards helping society.


This article was published on 29 Nov 2023

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Yusuff Adebayo Adebisi and Mridhula Gopalan