RWE 101 – Real World Evidence (RWE) 101 – De-Identification versus Pseudo-Anonymisation

De-identification and pseudo-anonymization are two commonly used techniques for protecting personal information in real world evidence (RWE) studies.

De-identification involves removing or obscuring any personal identifiers, such as names, addresses, and social security numbers, from a dataset. The goal is to make it impossible to identify individuals in the dataset. However, de-identified data can still potentially be re-identified if combined with other data sources or through statistical analysis.

Pseudo-anonymization involves replacing personal identifiers with a unique identifier, or code, that cannot be traced back to the individual without access to a separate database. This technique provides an additional layer of protection as the original personal identifiers are not included in the dataset. However, there is still a risk that individuals can be re-identified if the codes are compromised or if the separate database is breached.

In the context of RWE, both de-identification and pseudo-anonymization can be effective in protecting personal information. The choice of technique will depend on the level of risk associated with re-identification and the specific requirements of the study. For example, if the dataset contains sensitive information or the risk of re-identification is high, pseudo-anonymization may be preferred. If the risk of re-identification is low and the dataset does not contain sensitive information, de-identification may be sufficient.

It is important to note that neither de-identification nor pseudo-anonymization can guarantee complete protection of personal information. Additional measures, such as access controls and data use agreements, may be necessary to further reduce the risk of re-identification and protect the privacy of individuals in RWE studies.

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