Perspectives regarding privacy in clinical research among research professionals from the Arab region: an exploratory qualitative study

BMC Medical Ethics 21 (1):1-16 (2020)
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Abstract

Background Protecting the privacy of research participants is widely recognized as one of the standard ethical requirements for clinical research. It is unknown, however, how research professionals regard concepts of privacy as well as the situations in the research setting that require privacy protections. The aim of this study was to explore the views of research professionals from Arab countries regarding concepts and scope of privacy that occur in clinical research. Methods We adopted an exploratory qualitative approach by the use of focus group discussions. We recruited individuals involved in research from Egypt and Morocco. We analyzed focus group data via a constant comparison approach, which consisted of close reading of the transcribed interviews followed by coding and then determining themes and subthemes. Results Between August 2016 and July 2018, we conducted nine focus group discussions. Respondents discussed several privacy issues that occurred before the research began ; during research, and after the research. Respondents revealed their perspectives of patients towards privacy in the clinical and research settings and mentioned that patients are more likely to permit access to their privacy in the clinical setting compared with research setting due to the existence of benefits and trust in clinical care. Respondents also recommended training regarding data protections for individuals involved in research. Conclusions Our study shows that research professionals discussed a range of privacy issues that are present during the different stages of research. We recommend 1) development of standards regarding privacy protections during recruitment efforts; 2) additional training for individuals involved in research regarding best practices with data security in secondary research; 3) a quantitative study involving investigators and REC members to determine their knowledge, attitudes and practices regarding privacy issues that occur in research; and 4) a quantitative study involving patients to elicit their views regarding their privacy concerns in research.

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