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Public health researcher apologises for murky data collection methods

Participants in the 600,000-person survey were surprised and concerned to learn that THL had requested their credit profiles for its research.

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Image: Anssi Leppänen / Yle

The National Institute for Health and welfare has apologised to survey participants for the manner in which it informed them of planned research on the link between pregnancy complications or premature births and adult health and wellbeing.

On Tuesday the THL said that it had asked personal and corporate credit rating firm Asiakastieto for the credit profiles of 30-year-olds and their parents for research purposes.

The agency added that several concerned potential survey participants in the survey had bombarded it with questions and contact requests over the matter. The organisation apologised for the uncertainty its approach caused.

THL said that the purpose of the credit history query was to determine whether or not there was a link between complications during pregnancy or premature birth and children’s subsequent health and wellbeing, including their financial status.

The organisation explained that the study would help it improve the care of premature babies and learn to recognise the factors that protect children on the journey into adulthood.

Agency pledges confidentiality

The agency stressed that the information requested would be handled in full confidentiality in accordance with data security regulations and without linking specific individuals to research data. It also cited legislation which allows it to conduct scientific research using registry data.

The broad-based study includes some 600,000 people. Individuals who are currently using a credit tracking service received a THL notification about the request for their credit profiles via email.

THL Director General Marina Erhola said that the agency intends to improve its practices so that future efforts to collect research data would not cause concern.

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