Government databases and public health research

facilitating access in the public interest

Carolyn Adams*, Judy Allen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

4 Citations (Scopus)


Access to datasets of personal health information held by government agencies is essential to support public health research and to promote evidence-based public health policy development. Privacy legislation in Australia allows the use and disclosure of such information for public health research. However, access is not always forthcoming in a timely manner and the decision-making process undertaken by government data custodians is not always transparent. Given the public benefit in research using these health information datasets, this article suggests that it is time to recognise a right of access for approved research and that the decisions, and decision-making processes, of government data custodians should be subject to increased scrutiny. The article concludes that researchers should have an avenue of external review where access to information has been denied or unduly delayed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)957-972
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Law and Medicine
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2014

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