Confidentiality and autonomy: the challenge(s) of offering research participants a choice of disclosing their identity

Journal Article

By: J; O'Reilly Giordano, M; Taylor, H; Dogra, N
Publication Name: Qual Health Res
Year: 2007

In this article, the authors present one of the key ethical features of research: confidentiality as maintained by nondis-closure of participants' identities. In light of (a) the contingency that certain participants might vest interest in research studies through their identity and (b) the concept of respect for participants' autonomy, the authors consider the possibilities of offering research participants the choice of nonconfidentiality, afforded as an autonomous (negative) right of refusal of nondisclosure of identity. They address the issue that this possibility generates within the context(s) of current codes of ethics related to health research and the manifest responsibilities of the institutional review process. In this way, they attempt to elucidate potential benefits and consequences that arise from confidentiality and nonconfidentiality.

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