Human Subjects

What is the difference between confidential and anonymous data?

Anonymous data are recorded so that the information can never be linked to the subject who supplied it.

Confidential data are recorded so that the information is not immediately identified with the subject who supplied it, but such a link is possible. Confidential data are usually coded–that is, the subject is assigned a unique identifier that will be used to identify the data. The code identifies the data and the subject's identity is kept separate from the code and data. Coded data are not anonymous.

What is an assurance?

An assurance is a contract that the university enters into with the federal government to allow federally-sponsored human research to take place at that institution. The Federal Wide Assurance (FWA) number for UMass is FWA00003909.

What is HIPAA and who do I contact if I have further questions?

HIPAA is shorthand for the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act which contains privacy regulations affecting researchers collecting data from a covered entity, such as Baystate Medical Center. (UMass is a hybrid entity). These regulations provide significant new privacy protections for the health information of patients and research subjects including the following: