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The Administrative Data Research Centre Northern Ireland(ADRC NI) is a partnership between Ulster University and Queen's University Belfast.

The centre is part of the wider ADR UK network, a partnership between universities, government departments and agencies, national statistics authorities, funders and the wider research community.

ADR UK makes it possible for researchers to access information collected by national and local government and other public sector organisations (typically in the delivery of services). Whilst this data is collected for administrative or operational reasons it can be very valuable for research purposes as it contains a wealth of information about our society.

Therefore, by providing a forum for access to safe, secure and unidentifiable government administrative data (both linked and unlinked) such as education, census and health and social care data, researchers can gain an increased understanding of economic and social issues which can in turn lead to improved policy and improved public services.

Benefits of Collaboration

The benefits of this collaboration are a closer working relationship between the generators and custodians of administrative data in governmental and other agencies, those that might use the data, and the policymakers who will benefit from further analysis of this data. Social researchers in particular, can use this data to analyse the impact of government policies, or find new explanations for everyday issues.

The ADRC NI will also contribute to and lead wider public discussions around the use of data for research purposes for the public good. In 2015, ADRC NI partnered with the Northern Ireland Life and Times (NILT) survey for the study ‘Public attitudes to data sharing in Northern Ireland’, which provided a base line of public opinion towards the sharing and linking of data for research, with an emphasis on health research.

The study found that when public benefit is a focus of data research, the public is more likely to be supportive of their data being used.


Below are some examples of projects undertaken through ADRC NI.

More of our work can be found on the ADR UK website

  • Health service use and outcomes in later life: an examination of urban and rural health inequalities in Northern Ireland

    Led by Professor Gerry Leavey, Bamford Centre for Mental Health, Ulster University

    In an aging population, concerns about the provision of health and social care for older people are increasingly important.

    In a Northern Ireland context this study will provide an opportunity to examine late-life health inequalities related to service use.

    The findings of this study will inform health and social care policy and practice relating to early prevention and further identify trends in dementia and multi-morbid conditions.

    The findings will highlight areas of need for policy development in order to reduce hospital admissions and improve clinical pathways.

    The project team is working closely with a range of stakeholders, including the office of the Commissioner for Older People, and policymakers and practitioners in health and social care.

  • Childhood interactions with social services and risk of poor health and social outcomes in adulthood: a population wide data linkage study

    Led by Dr Aideen Maguire, Queen’s University Belfast

    This project will involve the linking of social services data (Social Services Care Administrative and Records Environment: SOSCARE 1985-2015) to a multitude of other data sets including census returns, prescribed medication data, hospital data, and the registry of self-harm and death records at an individual-level.

    This will allow the creation of the UKs first historical, population-wide cohort of individuals and enable research following individuals over a 30-year period to examine a range of outcomes including; receipt of psychotropic medication, psychiatric hospital admission, self-harm, employment status, educational attainment or death by suicide.

    This study is working closely with the Department of Health as well as key stakeholders working with children and young people.


    The study is housed at the Bamford Centre for Mental Health and Institute for Nursing and Health Research within Ulster University, and within the Centre for Public Health at Queen’s University Belfast.

    The project is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, now part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and the Research and Development Division of the Public Health Agency Northern Ireland.


ADR UK is made up of three national partnerships – ADR Scotland, ADR Wales, and ADR Northern Ireland – coordinated by a UK-wide Strategic Hub, and the Office for National Statistics (ONS), which is a key partner in linking and curating data and ensuring data provided by UK Government bodies is accessed by researchers in a safe and secure form.

This structure allows each of the UK nations to have a dedicated centre and team, focusing in on its individual policy needs whilst also enabling UK-wide research.

Staff and collaborators

Ulster University

  • Professor Gerard Leavey (Co-investigator, The Bamford Centre)
  • Dr Michael Rosato (Senior Research Fellow, Epidemiology and Public Health)
  • Dr Maria Loane (Co-investigator, Institute for Nursing and Health Research)
  • Elizabeth Nelson Gorman (ADRC-NI Public Engagement and Communications Officer and Institute for Nursing and Health Research)

Queen’s University Belfast

  • Professor Dermot O'Reilly: ADRC NI Director (Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Science, QUB)
    Professor Ciaran O’Neill: Co-investigator (Centre for Public Health, QUB)
  • Professor Duncan McVicker: Co-investigator (School of Management, QUB)
  • Dr Aideen Maguire: Co-investigator (Centre for Public Health, QUB)
  • Dr Anne Kouvonen: Co-investigator (Queen’s University Belfast and University of Helsinki)
  • Frances Burns: ADRC NI Project Manager (Centre for Public Health, QUB)
    Samantha Livingstone: ADRC NI Senior Project Administrator (Centre for Public Health, QUB)