Confidentiality is critical to this research effort and RTI places great importance on maintaining the highest standards of confidentiality and integrity of participants’ data.
Participants cannot be identified through any information they provide. Participants’ names and addresses will never be connected to their answers. All answers will be combined with responses from other participants; the results of the study will come from the combined answers and it won’t be possible to identify any individual. Information provided by a participant will only be used by authorized personnel for statistical purposes.
Federal law requires us to keep all answers confidential. The right of privacy is guaranteed by the federal Privacy Act of 1974. This Act prohibits the release of personal information gathered by or for a federal agency without the written consent of the respondent. Fines and penalties apply to individuals or organizations that violate this law.
The National Study of Mental Health project has also obtained a Certificate of Confidentiality from the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). This adds special protection for the research information about participants because it protects the research team from being forced, even under a court order or subpoena, to release information that could identify anyone.