gazette logo
   A Memorial University of Newfoundland Publication

mun logo   
March 31, 2005


New partnership on health information

MUN’s Division of Community Health in the Faculty of Medicine and the Newfoundland and Labrador Statistics Agency have entered into a partnership to manage and supply access and dissemination services for certain protected health information. Information in the databases come from the 2001 Newfoundland Adult Health Survey of over 8,500 Newfoundlanders. Also included in this partnership are archived data from earlier health surveys over the 1985-90 period conducted by the late Dr. Jorge Segovia and medical researcher Alison Edwards of Community Health. Ms. Edwards will be steward of the databases.

Alton Hollett, director of the Newfoundland and Labrador Statistics Agency, said this partnership is a unique opportunity for the provincial government to make a connection with the university and allow access for approved researchers to information not formerly available to them. “In this way the public interest is better served and we get the satisfaction of knowing the put to good use. There is a potentially huge value-added component.”

Information in the databases contain numerous variables from self-assessed health status demographic and lifestyle information of those surveyed, to hospital admissions and discharges and MCP linkages showing the number of visits in each calendar year. Ms. Edwards said she has always been concerned about long-term archiving of data from the 1994-95 Newfoundland Adult Health Survey and the 1992-99 St. John’s Medical Utilization Survey. “Unless data is well-organized, well-documented and accessible it’s of no use for future research.”

Dr. Roy West, acting associate dean of Community Health, said the agreement to share information sets up one point of access to the data for researchers, through Ms. Edwards in her role as steward. Her job includes ensuring that respondent confidentiality is protected and screening research projects that want access to the database. Ms. Edwards explained that “researchers who want to use the data for analysis must have approval from the Human Investigation Committee.”

The health information databases will be housed in two locations – the Division of Community Health and the Newfoundland and Labrador Statistics Agency.