NEWS - Innovative new residential linkage tool launched

A new tool which marks an exciting methodological development in geospatial data linkage has been created by SCADR and Public Health Scotland.

SCADR Director, Professor Chris Dibben, has been working closely with Public Health Scotland to develop a tool which links the Community Health Index (CHI) and Unique Property Reference Number (UPRN).

This new lookup tool, the CHI-UPRN Residential Linkage (CURL) file, has been created in response to the COVID-19 pandemic in order to enhance understanding of people living in the same property, such as care homes.

The potential utility of this resource, however, goes much further than just COVID-19 related research, and is seen as a major development to the Community Health Index (CHI) as a data linkage tool in Scotland:

CHI has long been used as a population spine for patient-level data linkage in health based projects, but the addition of a property level dimension through CURL opens up exciting new avenues for researchers.” - David Clark, Public Health Scotland

The household is arguably the most important sphere of social, psychological and economic life for an individual. With the UPRN linked to the CHI, it is now possible to explore the many issues where the household is important and individual records can be grouped into units with the same UPRN.” - Professor Chris Dibben, University of Edinburgh

Accessing CURL

To accompany the tool, an introductory guide has been created which covers key areas including:

  • How it can support research and analysis
  • Linkage quality and biases
  • How to use and access the tool
  • Further information on the development of a care home flag

The current tool is not a final product and will continue to be improved and added to over time. For further information and queries regarding accessing CURL, please visit eDRIS Data for Research webpage or email

Research using CURL

This tool is already in demand for a range of emerging research projects relating to COVID-19, including informing the recent Public Health Scotland report Discharges from NHS Scotland hospitals to care homes

Here at SCADR, we have several COVID-19 research studies in development which will utilise CURL, including our project Community based COVID-19 mortality.

This article was published on 23 Nov 2020