One of the main concepts of research ethics is the informed consent of participants involved in a particular experiment. At the same time, consent should be based on one obligatory condition – respect for people’s privacy. In other words, they should have a right not to reveal information they do not want and any data offered for researchers should remain confidential. In medical research, specialists who organize and conduct studies should be particularly responsible for confidentiality as they traditionally deal with highly personal information concerning patient health they agree to disclose. In general, to keep patient data private means to build the relationship of respect and trust that should exist between participants and researchers. Thus, to ensure the privacy of collected data, the following measures should be taken:
- Private information not related to the purpose of the study should not be published;
- Participant codes instead of names should be used to label data. In turn, a list of codes matched with names should be kept separately in order to avoid data leakage;
- Confidentiality should be respected not only by researchers but by participants as well. In other words, if applicable, they should sign a non-disclosure document to ensure that information will not be transferred to third parties (“Maintaining confidentiality during qualitative research,” 2016).
All strategies that aim to prevent illegal information disclosure may be fully applicable to the evaluation of the efficiency of the STEADI algorithm in the clinic in Florida. As all targeted patients should be screened annually to assess their vulnerability to falls through questionnaires, their answers should remain confidential (Eckstrom et al., 2017). Moreover, the period of follow-up also requires the appearance of new information (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2019). In addition, carrying out work within the public arena with compassion, justice, and concern for the common good associated with the Christian worldview affects patient privacy and data collection as well. First of all, people deserve respect, and their desire to keep information private should be considered. In addition, confidentiality may be regarded as justice and compassion as information disclosure without the consent of a patient may lead to highly negative outcomes for his health and life in general.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2019). Algorithm for Fall Risk Screening, Assessment, and Intervention.
Eckstrom, E., Parker, E. M., Lambert, G. H., Winkler, G., Dowler, D., & Casey, C. M. (2017). Implementing STEADI in academic primary care to address older adult fall risk. Innovation in Aging, 1(2), 1-9.
Maintaining confidentiality during qualitative research. (2016).