The problem of deductive disclosure of an individual respondent’s identity is a major concern of federal agencies and researchers. In essence, deductive disclosure is the discerning of an individual respondent’s identity and responses through the use of known characteristics of that individual. This is not unique to LAMHA—a person who is known to have participated in ANY survey may be identified by a combination of personal characteristics, allowing identification of that person’s record.
The LAMHA data are more sensitive than many other datasets to deductive disclosure. This is due, in part, to the situation of the population in which we are working. LAMHA surveyed students in grades 7 through 12 in a schools in NC; 250 families were interviewed in our study.
Given the sensitive status of project participants, researchers who use the LAMHA contractual dataset are obligated to protect respondents from deductive disclosure risk by taking extraordinary precautions to protect the data from unauthorized use. Precautions include, but are not limited to, the following:
- downloading data only once and storing in a locked drawer or file cabinet
- saving the computer programs used to construct analysis data files, but not the data files themselves
- retrieving paper printouts immediately upon output
- shredding printouts no longer in use
- password protecting LAMHA data
- signing pledges of confidentiality
- agreeing to use the data solely for statistical reporting and analysis