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J Am Med Inform Assoc. 2006 Mar-Apr;13(2):233-5. Epub 2005 Dec 15.

Using biometrics for participant identification in a research study: a case report.

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  • 1Division of Pediatric and Developmental Dental Sciences, School of Dental Medicine, University of Pittsburgh, 3501 Terrace Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15261, USA.


This paper illustrates the use of biometrics through the application of an iris-based biometrics system for identifying twins and their parents in a longitudinal research study. It explores the use of biometrics (science of measuring physical or anatomical characteristics of individuals) as a technology for correct identification of individuals during longitudinal studies to help ensure data fidelity. Examples of these circumstances include longitudinal epidemiological and genetic studies, clinical trials, and multicenter collaborative studies where accurate identification of subjects over time can be difficult when the subject may be young or an unreliable source of identification information. The use of technology can automate the process of subject identification thereby reducing the need to depend on subject recall during repeated visits thus helping to ensure data quality. This case report provides insights that may serve as useful hints for those responsible for planning system implementation that involves participants' authentication that would require a more secure form of identification.

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