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Gaceta Sanitaria

Print version ISSN 0213-9111


LECUONA, Itziar de. Review of the methodological, ethical, legal and social issues of research projects in healthcare with big data. Gac Sanit [online]. 2018, vol.32, n.6, pp.576-578. ISSN 0213-9111.

The current model for reviewing research with human beings basically depends on decision-making processes within research ethics committees. These committees must be aware of the importance of the new digital paradigm based on the large-scale exploitation of datasets, including personal data on health. This article offers guidelines, with the application of the EU's General Data Protection Regulation, for the appropriate evaluation of projects that are based on the use of big data analytics in healthcare. The processes for gathering and using this data constitute a niche where current research is developed. In this context, the existing protocols for obtaining informed consent from participants are outdated, as they are based not only on the assumption that personal data are anonymized, but that they will continue to be so in the future. As a result, it is essential that research ethics committees take on new capabilities and revisit values such as privacy and freedom, updating protocols, methodologies and working procedures. This change in the work culture will provide legal security to the personnel involved in research, will make it possible to guarantee the protection of the privacy of the subjects of the data, and will permit orienting the exploitation of data to avoid the commodification of personal data in this era of deidentification, so that research meets actual social needs and not spurious or opportunistic interests disguised as research.

Keywords : Healthcare research; Research ethics committees; Big data; Privacy and confidentiality; General Data Protection Regulation.

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