Protecting Your Privacy

Important information about your rights

Research at Kaiser Permanente is reviewed by oversight committees that ensure that:

  • All studies have scientific merit and align with Kaiser Permanente's mission.
  • Study participants are informed of the risks and benefits of research.
  • Study participants give their informed consent to be part of research.

Most studies are reviewed by an internal committee that includes Kaiser Permanente staff and patients. Other studies, including many clinical trials, are reviewed by a professional external committee.

Being part of a research study is voluntary. No one is required to participate. When someone decides not to be in the study, it does not affect their care at Kaiser Permanente in any way.

We protect our study participants' rights and privacy in every study. Our researchers follow strict standards to keep medical records and other study information confidential.

Email privacy policy 

Some research studies at Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute (KPWHRI) offer study participants the option of communicating with research project staff via electronic mail (email) over the Internet.

If you have an Internet email address and would like to take advantage of this service, please be aware of the following risks:

  • Multiple people may have access to a single email account, including your family members. Your employer may have the right to look at any messages sent to your office email address. You may wish to have the study staff person respond to you at a different address.
  • Email may be inadvertently sent to the wrong address.
  • Messages may be edited and/or forwarded to others without the original author's knowledge or permission.
  • Email is not guaranteed to be read by the addressee within a specified time period, but project staff will make every effort to read messages within three days. If the staff person is on vacation, you may receive a message reporting this to you.
  • Messages sent via the Internet cannot be considered confidential but are handled as confidential once received by the research project staff.

In addition, please observe the following rules:

  • Email may not be used to communicate emergencies or urgent messages. If you are experiencing a sudden or severe change in your health, or otherwise need an immediate response, please contact your primary health care provider's office by telephone.
  • Please do not use email to send or request very sensitive information. Kaiser Permanente cannot and does not guarantee the confidentiality of any messages being sent over the Internet.
  • It is helpful to include your full name in the body of the message, not the subject line. This helps protect your privacy.
  • If you do not receive a response in a timely manner, you should call the study office. A study staff person may be out of the office and unable to respond to email. Someone else from the project staff may be able to help you.
  • Medically relevant email messages are kept in locked study files and will not be included in your permanent medical record without your consent.