15 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Social media (SM) offers huge potential for public health research, serving as a vehicle for surveillance, delivering health interventions, recruitment to trials, collection of data, and dissemination. However, the ‘networked’ nature of the data is riddled with ethical challenges, and there is no clear consensus as to the ethical handling of such data. The aim of this paper is to outline the key ethical concerns for public health researchers using SM, and discuss how these concerns might be best addressed. Key issues discussed include those of privacy; anonymity and confidentiality; authenticity; the rapidly changing environment; informed consent; recruitment, voluntary participation and sampling; minimizing harm; data security and management. Despite the obvious need, it is difficult to produce a set of prescriptive guidelines for researchers using SM, as the field is evolving quickly. What is clear, however, is that the ethical issues connected to SM related public health research are also growing. Most importantly, public health researchers must work within the ethical principles set out by the Declaration of Helsinki that protect individual users first and foremost.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)343-348
JournalAmerican Journal of Public Health
Volume108
Issue number3
Early online date18 Jan 2018
DOIs
Publication statusEarly online date - 18 Jan 2018

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Social Media
Ethics
Public Health
Research Personnel
Research
Helsinki Declaration
Computer Security
Privacy
Confidentiality
Informed Consent
Consensus
Guidelines
Health

Cite this

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title = "Ethical issues in social media research for public health",
abstract = "Social media (SM) offers huge potential for public health research, serving as a vehicle for surveillance, delivering health interventions, recruitment to trials, collection of data, and dissemination. However, the ‘networked’ nature of the data is riddled with ethical challenges, and there is no clear consensus as to the ethical handling of such data. The aim of this paper is to outline the key ethical concerns for public health researchers using SM, and discuss how these concerns might be best addressed. Key issues discussed include those of privacy; anonymity and confidentiality; authenticity; the rapidly changing environment; informed consent; recruitment, voluntary participation and sampling; minimizing harm; data security and management. Despite the obvious need, it is difficult to produce a set of prescriptive guidelines for researchers using SM, as the field is evolving quickly. What is clear, however, is that the ethical issues connected to SM related public health research are also growing. Most importantly, public health researchers must work within the ethical principles set out by the Declaration of Helsinki that protect individual users first and foremost.",
author = "Ruth Hunter and Aisling Gough and Niamh O'Kane and Gary McKeown and Aine Fitzpatrick and Tom Walker and Michelle McKinley and Mandy Lee and Frank Kee",
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month = "1",
day = "18",
doi = "10.2105/AJPH.2017.304249",
language = "English",
volume = "108",
pages = "343--348",
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Ethical issues in social media research for public health. / Hunter, Ruth; Gough, Aisling; O'Kane, Niamh; McKeown, Gary; Fitzpatrick, Aine; Walker, Tom; McKinley, Michelle; Lee, Mandy ; Kee, Frank.

In: American Journal of Public Health, Vol. 108, No. 3, 18.01.2018, p. 343-348.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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T1 - Ethical issues in social media research for public health

AU - Hunter, Ruth

AU - Gough, Aisling

AU - O'Kane, Niamh

AU - McKeown, Gary

AU - Fitzpatrick, Aine

AU - Walker, Tom

AU - McKinley, Michelle

AU - Lee, Mandy

AU - Kee, Frank

PY - 2018/1/18

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N2 - Social media (SM) offers huge potential for public health research, serving as a vehicle for surveillance, delivering health interventions, recruitment to trials, collection of data, and dissemination. However, the ‘networked’ nature of the data is riddled with ethical challenges, and there is no clear consensus as to the ethical handling of such data. The aim of this paper is to outline the key ethical concerns for public health researchers using SM, and discuss how these concerns might be best addressed. Key issues discussed include those of privacy; anonymity and confidentiality; authenticity; the rapidly changing environment; informed consent; recruitment, voluntary participation and sampling; minimizing harm; data security and management. Despite the obvious need, it is difficult to produce a set of prescriptive guidelines for researchers using SM, as the field is evolving quickly. What is clear, however, is that the ethical issues connected to SM related public health research are also growing. Most importantly, public health researchers must work within the ethical principles set out by the Declaration of Helsinki that protect individual users first and foremost.

AB - Social media (SM) offers huge potential for public health research, serving as a vehicle for surveillance, delivering health interventions, recruitment to trials, collection of data, and dissemination. However, the ‘networked’ nature of the data is riddled with ethical challenges, and there is no clear consensus as to the ethical handling of such data. The aim of this paper is to outline the key ethical concerns for public health researchers using SM, and discuss how these concerns might be best addressed. Key issues discussed include those of privacy; anonymity and confidentiality; authenticity; the rapidly changing environment; informed consent; recruitment, voluntary participation and sampling; minimizing harm; data security and management. Despite the obvious need, it is difficult to produce a set of prescriptive guidelines for researchers using SM, as the field is evolving quickly. What is clear, however, is that the ethical issues connected to SM related public health research are also growing. Most importantly, public health researchers must work within the ethical principles set out by the Declaration of Helsinki that protect individual users first and foremost.

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