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location privacy in public health practice


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public health privacy location issues solutions


The limiting impact of privacy and confidentiality legislation on public health research and practice are generally widely recognised...or at least perceived; complicating data mining, sharing, acquisition, and analysis, and ultimately impeding accurate, evidence-based decision-making. Privacy and confidentiality issues have been specifically cited among the most critical challenges to data-sharing in Toronto’s response to SARS in Canada in 2003, and the UK’s South East Public Health Observatory 2004 report on data sharing and the development of a web-enabled geographic information statistics service. While the importance of and need for privacy laws and confidentiality agreements is recognised, their constraining effects on public health research - which, by definition, can only appropriately improve the health of populations by using data about the very individuals that compose it – is problematic. The perceived good of the individual generally seems to outweigh the effective betterment of the whole - which, ironically, is intrinsically dependant back on the good of the individual.

The aim of this research is to improve the capacity of public health practice around the globe by providing an innovative and accurate method for the analysis of real health data at the individual level - particularly in space and time (i.e. spatial-temporal) - while simultaneously respecting the privacy and confidentiality of the individual.


(Methods of Information in Medicine, 2011)

A Method for Managing Re-Identification Risk from Small Geographic Areas in Canada
(BMC Med Inform Decis Mak, 2010)

Musings on Privacy Issues in Health Research Involving Disaggregate Geographic Data About Individuals (Int J Health Geogr, 2009)

Evaluating Predictors of Geographic Area Population Size Cut-offs (JAMIA, 2009)

The Perceived Impact of Location Privacy
(BMC Public Health, 2008)

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©Philip AbdelMalik