Classification Standards for Health Information: Ethical and Practical Approaches

by Craig Konnoth

Secondary research using health information is on the rise. Not all informational research presents equal burdens. Yet, there has been little commentary on the distinction between different kinds of informational research. This paper helps remedy this problem. In so doing, it sets out the first step towards a blueprint for IRBs and other actors who must decide what kinds of constraints to apply to different kinds of information.
I first briefly explain what constitutes secondary research of health information, and outline the problem. Second, I point to analogous contexts in which health information is categorized. Third, relying on Helen Nissenbaum’s approach to privacy as contextual integrity, I argue for a “scoring” methodology that IRBs should use in determining information sensitivity.