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R&D Guide / Planning

Access to confidential material

Confidential material includes e.g. information from records, information from public agencies and various registers, such as health registers, criminal records and social service and national insurance records.

What can be confidential material?

In addition to written information, confidential material can include video and sound recordings. This is information about patients/clients that health personnel and government administration employees can`t disclose because of their confidentiality. 

The duty of confidentiality can also be an obstacle in observation studies, e.g. in a hospital ward or a child welfare institution, if, through the observation, you gain access to information that is subject to a duty of confidentiality.

When can I use confidential material?

  • The confidential material has to be be stored and necessary for the implementation of the project.
  • You must have legitimate reasons for not being able to obtain valid consent to waive confidentiality.

How to gain access to confidential material?

The relevant sector ministries can grant dispensations. However, this authority can be delegated.

The following bodies can grant dispensations:

  • The Regional Committees for Medical and Health Research Ethics (REC) can grant dispensations for the use of health information. Application forms and guidelines are available on REC's website.
  • The Norwegian Labour and Welfare Administration (NAV) can grant dispensations to use social security information.
  • The Ministry of Children and Equality can grant dispensations for information and other material from the child welfare service.
  • The regional branches of the Norwegian Correctional Service can grant dispensations for information and other material from the Norwegian Correctional Service.

For access to data from Statistics Norway (SSB), go to its website Data for research.