Informants a potential threat to confidentiality in small studies
Providing proper protection of confidentiality, by preventing personal data from falling into the hands of third parties, is one of the core responsibilities of researchers towards research participants. However, even if researchers do their best in this regard, it does not guarantee that breaches of confidentiality will be avoided. This paper addresses the case of small qualitative studies, arguing that researchers cannot guarantee their informants’ confidentiality, since that confidentiality may be compromised by actions taken by the informants themselves. In order to reduce the risk of this specific threat to confidentiality, additional precautions need to be taken. Some potential solutions to the problem are suggested and discussed.
KeywordsConfidentiality Ethics Informants Research ethics
The author would like to thank Niels Lynöe and Tomas Månsson, both at the Stockholm Centre for Healthcare Ethics, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, for constructive criticism of an earlier version of this paper.
Conflicts of interests
The author declares that he has no competing interests.
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