Privacy Preserving Data Analysis in Mental Health Research
The digitalization of mental health records and psychotherapy notes has made individual mental health data more readily accessible to a wide range of users including patients, psychiatrists, researchers, statisticians, and data scientists. However, increased accessibility of highly sensitive mental records threatens the privacy and confidentiality of psychiatric patients. The objective of this study is to examine privacy concerns in mental health research and develop a privacy preserving data analysis approach to address these concerns. In this paper, we demonstrate the key inadequacies of the existing privacy protection approaches applicable to use of mental health records and psychotherapy notes in records based research. We then develop a privacy-preserving data analysis approach that enables researchers to protect the privacy of people with mental illness once granted access to mental health records. Furthermore, we choose a demonstration project to show the use of the proposed approach. This paper concludes by suggesting practical implications for mental health researchers and future research in the field of privacy-preserving data analytics.