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Deidentification of facial photographs: a survey of editorial policies and practices
  1. Marija Roguljić1,
  2. Ivan Buljan2,
  3. Nika Veček1,
  4. Ružica Dragun1,
  5. Matko Marušić2,
  6. Elizabeth Wager3,
  7. Ana Marušić4
  1. 1Department of Oral Medicine and Periodontology, University of Split School of Medicine, Split, Croatia
  2. 2University of Split School of Medicine, Split, Croatia
  3. 3Sideview, Princes Risborough, UK
  4. 4Department of Research in Medicine and Health, University of Split School of Medicine, Split, Croatia
  1. Correspondence to Dr Marija Roguljić, Department of Oral Medicine and Periodontology, University of Split School of Medicine, 21000 Split, Croatia; marijarog{at}gmail.com

Abstract

We analysed all journals from two Journal Citation Reports (JCR) categories: ‘Dentistry, Oral Surgery and Medicine’ and ‘Otorhinolaryngology’ published in 2018 for their policies on publishing facial photographs and actual practices of publishing these photographs in articles. We extracted the following data for each journal: JCR category, impact factor, volume, issue, instructions for authors regarding ethical issues, instructions for photograph deidentification, journals’ references to standard research and publishing policies, presence and type of published clinical images, separate informed consent for the publication of patient photograph and methods of deidentification. The sample included 103 journals, which published 568 articles with 1404 clinical images. Around a half of the journals (52%) had a policy on clinical images, however, the only predictor of having a journal policy on clinical images was reference in the policy to International Committee of Medical Journal Editors Recommendations (OR=3.00, 95% CI 1.26 to 7.14, p=0.013). Identifiable patient photographs were found in 13% (79/568) of the articles, constituting 9% (128/1404) of the total sample of images. Only 16% (13/79) of articles publishing recognisable patient facial images included a statement about consent for publication of the image. From the total sample of articles, 34% (27/79) contained deidentified but recognisable patient photographs and only 22% (6/27) of them had a statement about patient consent for photograph publication. The patients’ consent was more likely stated in the article in cases of recognisable facial images (OR=2.81, 95% CI 1.41 to 5.63, p=0.004). Journals publishing clinical research involving the face and neck region need to establish and enforce policies on publishing clinical images.

  • confidentiality/privacy
  • ethics
  • informed consent
  • publication ethics
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Footnotes

  • Contributors MR planned and organised and coordinated the research and research design, participated in data collection, extracted data from the journals, analysed and interpreted the results and wrote the manuscript. IB planned the research and research design, made statistical analysis, collaborated in data analysis and interpretation and wrote the manuscript. NV and RD participated in research organisation, collected and extracted the data from the journals, interpreted the results and wrote the manuscript. MM planned and organised the research and research design, analysed and interpreted the results and wrote the manuscript. EW planned the research and research design, analysed and interpreted the results and wrote the manuscript. AM supervised, coordinated, planned and organised the research and research design, participated in data collection, analysed and interpreted the results and wrote the manuscript.

  • Funding AM 'Professionalism in Health Care'. Hrvatska zaklada za znanost (IP-2014-09-7672).

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data availability statement Data are available upon request from the corresponding author

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