Medical research using governments' health claims databases: With or without patients' consent?

Feng Jen Tsai, Valérie Junod

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article


Taking advantage of its single-payer, universal insurance system, Taiwan has leveraged its exhaustive database of health claims data for research purposes. Researchers can apply to receive access to pseudonymized (coded) medical data about insured patients, notably their diagnoses, health status and treatments. In view of the strict safeguards implemented, the Taiwanese government considers that this research use does not require patients' consent (either in the form of an opt-in or in the form of an opt-out). A group of non-governmental organizations has challenged this view in the Taiwanese Courts, but to no avail. The present article reviews the arguments both against and in favor of patients' consent for re-use of their data in research. It concludes that offering patients an opt-out would be appropriate as it would best balance the important interests at issue.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)871-877
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Public Health (United Kingdom)
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2018



  • Ethics
  • Government and law
  • Public health

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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