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Paper with the word 'Privacy' on it coming out of a shredder.

Here are some tips for maintaining confidentiality:

  • Design protocols to minimize the need to collect and maintain identifiable information about participants. When possible, gather information anonymously. If you must be able to identify individual participants (e.g., for record-matching purposes), you can use codes or numbers rather than names on research records.
  • Store data in a locked and safe location accessible only to the research team. Data files should be maintained in a manner that maintains participant privacy, as discussed above. The right to privacy also extends to the publication or presentation of information. Information should be analyzed and reported in a manner that maintains the privacy of all research participants.
  • During the informed consent process, inform potential participants of the precautions you will take to protect the confidentiality of their information, including who will or may have access to it (e.g., you, your evaluator). This will allow participants to decide if protections are adequate.
  • When you must tie study data to identifying information, do your best to maintain confidentiality. For example, use codes rather than participant names on study materials, or require anyone engaged in the collection, management, and/or analysis of data to sign a confidentiality agreement.

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