Ethical issues in health research with novel online sources

Am J Public Health. 2012 Dec;102(12):2225-30. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2012.300813. Epub 2012 Oct 18.


Health-related research is increasingly drawing on novel sources of online data, such as crowdsourced information about disease outbreaks, consumer-supplied information provided to health or wellness Web sites, Internet search queries about personal health, and social network postings that identify health behaviors. We offer examples of online sources and their uses, identify ethical and policy issues they generate, and formulate key questions for future discussion and investigation. Further work in this area will require cross-disciplinary collaboration to develop ethics and policy guidance for the ethical use of these novel data sources in health-related research.

MeSH terms

  • Biomedical Research / ethics*
  • Biomedical Research / methods
  • Cooperative Behavior
  • Health Information Systems
  • Humans
  • Internet
  • Online Systems / ethics*
  • Public Policy