Privacy considerations in the context of an Australian observational database

Katherine M. Duszynski, Justin J. Beilby, John E. Marley, Don C. Walker, Nicole L. Pratt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Observational databases are increasingly acknowledged for their value in clinical investigation. Australian general practice in particular presents an exciting opportunity to examine treatment in a natural setting. The paper explores issues such as privacy and confidentiality-foremost considerations when conducting this form of pharmacoepidemiological research. Australian legislation is currently addressing these exact issues in order to establish clear directives regarding ethical concerns. The development of a pharmacoepidemiological database arising from the integration of computerized Australian general practice records is described in addition, to the challenges associated with creating a database which considers patient privacy. The database known as 'Medic-GP', presently contains more than 950 000 clinical notes (including consultations, pathology, diagnostic imaging and adverse reactions) over a 5-year time period and relates to 55 000 patients. The paper then details a retrospective study which utilized the database to examine the interaction between antibiotic prescribing and patient outcomes from a community perspective, following a policy intervention. This study illustrates the application of computerized general practice records in research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)587-594
Number of pages8
JournalPharmacoepidemiology and Drug Safety
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2001
Externally publishedYes


  • Computerized records
  • De-identification
  • General practice
  • Observational databases
  • Privacy


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