Willingness to Share yet Maintain Influence: A Cross-Sectional Study on Attitudes in Sweden to the Use of Electronic Health Data

Public Health Ethics 14 (1):23-34 (2021)
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Abstract

We have investigated attitudes towards the use of health data among the Swedish population by analyzing data from a survey answered by 1645 persons. Health data are potentially useful for a variety of purposes. Yet information about health remains sensitive. A balance therefore has to be struck between these opposing considerations in a number of contexts. The attitudes among those whose data is concerned will influence the perceived legitimacy of policies regulating health data use. We aimed to investigate what views are held by the general public, and what aspects matter for the willingness to let one’s data be used not only for one’s own care but also for other purposes. We found that while there is a broad willingness to let one’s data be used, the possibility to influence that use is considered important. The study also indicated that when respondents are required to balance different interests, priority is typically given to compulsory schemes ensuring that data are available where needed, rather than voluntary participation and data protection. The policy implications to be drawn from this are not self-evident, however, since the fact that a majority has a certain attitude does not by itself determine the most adequate policy.

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