Research Ethics 18 (2):151-162 (2022)

In today’s online data-driven world, people constantly shed data and deposit digital footprints. When individuals access health services, governments and health providers collect and store large volumes of health information about people that can later be retrieved, linked and analysed for research purposes. This can lead to new discoveries in medicine and healthcare. In addition, when securely stored and de-identified, the privacy risks are minimal and manageable. In many jurisdictions, ethics committees routinely waive the requirement for researchers to obtain consent from data subjects before using and linking these datasets in an effort to balance respect for individuals with research efficiency. In this paper, I explore the ethical justification for using routinely collected health data for research without consent. I conclude that, not only is this morally justified but also that data subjects have a moral obligation to contribute their data to such research, which would obviate the need for ethics committees to consider consent waivers. In justifying this argument, I look to the duty of easy rescue, distributive justice and draw analogies with vaccination ethics.
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DOI 10.1177/17470161211058311
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Scientific Research is a Moral Duty.J. Harris - 2005 - Journal of Medical Ethics 31 (4):242-248.

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