Navigation Links
Anonymization remains a powerful approach to protecting the privacy of health information
Date:12/8/2011

OTTAWA, ON December 8, 2011 De-identification of health data has been crucial for all types of health research, but recent articles in medical and scientific literature have suggested that de-identification methods do not sufficiently protect the identities of individuals and can be easily reversed. A recent review conducted by researchers at CHEO entitled "A Systematic Review of Re-identification Attacks on Health Data" and published in PLoS ONE, did not uncover evidence to support this. "If re-identification rates were as high as some of these articles suggest, it would be worrisome," says lead author, Dr. Khaled El-Emam. "But our review did not support these claims there is no broad empirical support for a failure of anonymization."

Such a failure would have significant policy implications. For example, it may become necessary to obtain patient consent before data is released (a time-consuming undertaking), incentive to de-identify would decline, and the likelihood of breaches would increase. For this reason, Dr. El-Emam and his team conducted a review that set out to characterize known re-identification attacks on health data and compare them to attacks on other types of data, calculate the number of records correctly identified in these attacks, and assess whether the results indicate a weakness in current de-identification methods.

After identifying 14 relevant studies and analyzing them in detail, the group was unable to find convincing evidence that existing de-identification methods are not effective. Few of these attacks involved health data which is naturally protected more strenuously. Secondly, many of the attacks were on small databases with large confidence intervals around their success rates. Most importantly, the majority of re-identified data was not de-identified according to existing standards. "Of the 24 studies we examined, only six were attacks on health data and only one of these was de-identified according to standards," Dr. El-Emam points out. "In that particular study, the proportion of correctly re-identified records was very low: about 0.013%."

In certain well-publicized re-identification attacks, adversaries were able to make use of such information as an individual's date of birth, gender, and residential zip code. Since these 3 features were not modified in any way, the database would not meet basic standards for de-identification. If anything, such a breach serves to underscore the importance of implementing existing de-identification standards.

Dr. El-Emam concludes by saying that in order to have a more accurate picture of the extent to which de-identification protects against real attacks, future research on re-identification attacks should focus on large databases that have been de-identified according to existing standards, and that success rates should be correlated with how well de-identification was performed. In the meantime, it is suggested that data custodians continue to de-identify using current best practices.


'/>"/>

Contact: Adrienne Vienneau
avienneau@cheo.on.ca
613-737-7600 x4144
Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario Research Institute
Source:Eurekalert

Related medicine news :

1. A Healthy Diet Remains Your Best Weapon Against the #1 Killer: Heart Disease
2. JDR increases its 5-Year SIF and remains number one dental journal of 64 in its category
3. Green And Greener Survey Shows Hospitals Embrace Environmentally Sustainable Practices, Though Room for Improvement Remains
4. Lack of insurance coverage remains obstacle to wider colorectal cancer screening with CT colonography
5. Surgery or stenting for carotid artery disease? Question remains
6. Results of the placement of multiple endoscopic stents for postoperative biliary strictures remains excellent after long-term follow-up
7. Adults in Puerto Rico aware of genetic testing, but use remains low
8. Religious Identity Remains Constant in Teen Years: Study
9. Benefit of blood glucose lowering to near-normal levels remains unclear
10. Evidence in the field of CVD in pregnancy is sparse, but the condition remains a concern:
11. New report: US investment in health research remains stagnant
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:2/5/2016)... ... February 05, 2016 , ... ... the company's lighter, sleeker next generation LYNX VR Indoor Trainer with multi-rider capability ... in design and manufacturing not only reduce the weight of the unit, they ...
(Date:2/5/2016)... NY (PRWEB) , ... February 05, 2016 , ... ... partners and setting the stage for new clinical and scientific initiatives have all ... year after she was appointed President and CEO of the nation’s oldest cancer ...
(Date:2/5/2016)... FL (PRWEB) , ... February 05, 2016 , ... ... the largest domestic franchisees of Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen restaurants, launched the 14th annual ... awareness for kids and adults with muscular dystrophy, ALS and related diseases that ...
(Date:2/5/2016)... ... February 05, 2016 , ... Looking for a last-minute Valentine’s Day ... tips of your toes. Foot massage, whether administered by a professional masseuse or a ... The American Board of Multiple Specialties in Podiatry (ABMSP) has taken the ...
(Date:2/5/2016)... ... ... After years as an active staff surgeon and having served as the ... Carman transitioned to chief of the Division of Plastic Surgery at what is now ... and began a second three-year term in January of 2016. , The original selection ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:2/5/2016)... 2016  Patients in Alabama seeking ... therapy no longer have to travel out of state. ... Urology Centers of Alabama to provide a total ... qualifying patients. Alabama is ... of prostate cancer using many different modalities. They are the ...
(Date:2/5/2016)... 5, 2016 --> ... states that the global active pharmaceuticals ingredients (APIs) market ... to reach US$185.9 bn by 2020. It is expected ... to 2020. The title of the report is "Active ... Geography, and by Therapeutic Area) - Global Industry Analysis, ...
(Date:2/5/2016)... Site Profile: --> Site ... People, announced their latest primary healthcare case study where speech recognition ... and to save the practice money. Site Profile: ... Challenge: --> ,- Wirral CCG ,- VoicePower client since ... Wirral CCG ,- VoicePower client since 2013 Challenge: ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: