An Ethics Framework for Big Data in Health and Research

Vicki Xafis (Corresponding), G. Owen Schaefer, Markus Labude, Iain Brassington, Angela Ballantyne, Hannah Yeefen Lim, Wendy Lipworth, Tamra Lysaght, Cameron Stewart, Shirley Sun , Graeme T Laurie, E Shyong Tai

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Ethical decision-making frameworks assist in identifying the issues at stake in a particular setting and thinking through, in a methodical manner, the ethical issues that require consideration as well as the values that need to be considered and promoted. Decisions made about the use, sharing, and re-use of big data are complex and laden with values. This paper sets out an Ethics Framework for Big Data in Health and Research developed by a working group convened by the Science, Health and Policy-relevant Ethics in Singapore (SHAPES) Initiative. It presents the aim and rationale for this framework supported by the underlying ethical concerns that relate to all health and research contexts. It also describes a set of substantive and procedural values that can be weighed up in addressing these concerns, and a step-by-step process for identifying, considering, and resolving the ethical issues arising from big data uses in health and research. This Framework is subsequently applied in the papers published in this Special Issue. These papers each address one of six domains where big data is currently employed: openness in big data and data repositories, precision medicine and big data, real-world data to generate evidence about healthcare interventions, AI-assisted decision-making in healthcare, public-private partnerships in healthcare and research, and cross-sectoral big data.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)227-254
Number of pages28
JournalAsian Bioethics Review
Early online date1 Oct 2019
Publication statusPublished - 2020


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