One of the initiatives being promoted during October’s Cyber Security month was the formal project at UNMC to minimize the use of social security numbers (SSN). Policy 6085 governs the use of SSN within the UNMC campus and does include research subjects.
The SSN of a research subject is considered confidential information and should not be used to identify a research subject unless legally mandated. If you have IRB approval to use a SSN in your study, you must fill out the “Request to Use Social Security Number” form (http://www.unmc.edu/hipaa/policies/). Be prepared to provide why you need to use a SSN, where you will store the SSN, and how you intend to maintain the confidentiality of the data. ITS recommends that you don’t keep a SSN in a protocol if it is not really necessary.
Other tips and tricks can be found under the “Stop. Think. Connect.” tag on the ITS websites for UNMC and Nebraska Medicine, including reference materials for safeguarding your information and instructional videos. Read more at http://www.unmc.edu/its/security/index.html