A Study of Publicly Available Resources Addressing Legal Data-Sharing Barriers: Systematic Assessment. Academic Article uri icon


  • BACKGROUND: United States data protection laws vary depending on the data type and its context. Data projects involving social determinants of health often concern different data protection laws, making them difficult to navigate. OBJECTIVE: We systematically aggregated and assessed useful online resources to help navigate the data-sharing landscape. METHODS: We included publicly available resources that discussed legal data-sharing issues with some health relevance and published between 2010 and 2019. We conducted an iterative search with a common string pattern using a general-purpose search engine that targeted 24 different sectors identified by Data Across Sectors for Health. We scored each online resource for its depth of legal and data-sharing discussions and value for addressing legal barriers. RESULTS: Out of 3710 total search hits, 2721 unique URLs were reviewed for scope, 322 received full-text review, and 154 were selected for final coding. Legal agreements, consent, and agency guidance were the most widely covered legal topics, with HIPAA (The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act), Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), Title 42 of the Code of Federal Regulations Part 2 being the top 3 federal laws discussed. Clinical health care was the most prominent sector with a mention in 73 resources. CONCLUSIONS: This is the first systematic study of publicly available resources on legal data-sharing issues. We found existing gaps where resources covering certain laws or applications may be needed. The volume of resources we found is an indicator that real and perceived legal issues are a substantial barrier to efforts in leveraging data from different sectors to promote health.

published proceedings

  • J Med Internet Res

altmetric score

  • 11.062

author list (cited authors)

  • Karim, M. A., Kum, H., & Schmit, C. D.

citation count

  • 1

complete list of authors

  • Karim, Mohammad A||Kum, Hye-Chung||Schmit, Cason D

publication date

  • September 2022