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Title: Protecting Privacy of Shared Epidemiologic Data without Compromising Analysis Potential

Objective . Ensuring privacy of research subjects when epidemiologic data are shared with outside collaborators involves masking (modifying) the data, but overmasking can compromise utility (analysis potential). Methods of statistical disclosure control for protecting privacy may be impractical for individual researchers involved in small-scale collaborations. Methods . We investigated a simple approach based on measures of disclosure risk and analytical utility that are straightforward for epidemiologic researchers to derive. The method is illustrated using data from the Japanese Atomic-bomb Survivor population. Results . Masking by modest rounding did not adequately enhance security but rounding to remove several digits of relative accuracy effectively reduced the risk of identification without substantially reducing utility. Grouping or adding random noise led to noticeable bias. Conclusions . When sharing epidemiologic data, it is recommended that masking be performed using rounding. Specific treatment should be determined separately in individual situations after consideration of the disclosure risks and analysis needs.
 [1] ;  [2] ;  [1] ;  [3] ;  [1] ;  [4]
  1. Department of Statistics, Radiation Effects Research Foundation, 5-2 Hijiyama Park, Minami-ku, Hiroshima 732-0815, Japan
  2. Department of Epidemiology, Radiation Effects Research Foundation, Hiroshima 732-0815, Japan
  3. Department of Medical Informatics, Graduate School of Medicine, Dentistry and Pharmaceutical Sciences, Okayama University, 2-5-1 Shikata-cho, Okayama 700-8558, Japan
  4. Department of Information Technology, Radiation Effects Research Foundation, Hiroshima 732-0815, Japan
Publication Date:
Published Article
Journal Name:
Journal of Environmental and Public Health
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 2012; Related Information: CHORUS Timestamp: 2016-08-02 16:09:48; Journal ID: ISSN 1687-9805
Hindawi Publishing Corporation
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