‘Benefits of data sharing have been widely recognized – transparency and cooperation, reproducibility of research, cost-efficiency and preventing redundancies, acceleration of discovery and innovation, and saving lives through more efficient and effective public health programs…’
‘The simultaneous effect of multiple interacting barriers ranging from technical to intangible issues has greatly complicated advances in public health data sharing’, concludes a paper in BMC Public Health (with thanks to Isabelle Wachsmuth-Huguet and HIFA-EVIPNet-French). This has negative consequences for decision-making by public health agencies (ranging from international health agencies to ministries of health to local institutions), and also obstructs their use in academic research and technology development.
Below is the citation and abstract. The full text is available here: http://www.biomedcentral.com/1471-2458/14/1144
It is notable that the current study (like many reviews, and for obvious reasons) is limited to English-language studies only.
CITATION: A systematic review of barriers to data sharing in public health
Willem G van Panhuis, Proma Paul, Claudia Emerson, John Grefenstette, Richard Wilder, Abraham J Herbst, David Heymann and Donald S Burke
van Panhuis et al. BMC Public Health 2014, 14:1144
Background: In the current information age, the use of data has become essential for decision making in public health at the local, national, and global level. Despite a global commitment to the use and sharing of public health data, this can be challenging in reality. No systematic framework or global operational guidelines have been created for data sharing in public health. Barriers at different levels have limited data sharing but have only been anecdotally discussed or in the context of specific case studies. Incomplete systematic evidence on the scope and variety of these barriers has limited opportunities to maximize the value and use of public health data for science and policy.
Methods: We conducted a systematic literature review of potential barriers to public health data sharing. Documents that described barriers to sharing of routinely collected public health data were eligible for inclusion and reviewed independently by a team of experts. We grouped identified barriers in a taxonomy for a focused international dialogue on solutions.
Results: Twenty potential barriers were identified and classified in six categories: technical, motivational, economic, political, legal and ethical. The first three categories are deeply rooted in well-known challenges of health information systems for which structural solutions have yet to be found; the last three have solutions that lie in an international dialogue aimed at generating consensus on policies and instruments for data sharing.
Conclusions: The simultaneous effect of multiple interacting barriers ranging from technical to intangible issues has greatly complicated advances in public health data sharing. A systematic framework of barriers to data sharing in public health will be essential to accelerate the use of valuable information for the global good.
The authors say ‘more research is needed to expand the evidence base of these barriers. As knowledge on these barriers will increase, so will opportunities for solutions’.
Best wishes, Neil
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