Profiles for Good

Not Profiling for Profit

by Judson B. Tunnell, 15-February-2023

Detailed demographic profiles increase the relevance of data. For example, some medications affect men and women in different ways. Data gathered on the health of people taking the same medication could show different outcomes for men and women. In that case knowing the gender of respondents is important. We must be very careful with demographic profiles though, as they are often misused.

One example is the re-victimization of demographic groups. A large wellness study were to show that most of the people in a remote community are unhappy and unwell. Publicizing that fact could result in further isolation and victimization. A company that was about to move to that location may cancel their plans. A doctor who had decided to move her family and her practice may decide not to based on the report. The harm is obvious.

If the same data was in the hands of responsible government (and I emphasize responsible) then incentives could be offered to the same company or doctor to complete their relocation plans. These developments could in turn increase the wellness of the community. The previous example concerns a specific geographic location. The same could be said for ethnic and gender identities or any other aspect of a profile. Data and its analysis should never be used to target or stigmatize a demographic group.

Dimensions of Wellness allows users to complete wellness assessments without having a profile. The results of assessments are more relevant with a complete profile. However assessments without accompanying profiles also assist is normalizing the data. The profiles do not contain any personally identifiable information.

We built our demographic profiles using the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) standards. Wherever possible we use the CIHI values for optional values (such as living arrangement, gender identity etc.). If CIHI does not have a definition for something that we want to capture, we use the values from the 2021 Canadian Census.

Dimensions of Wellness is dedicated to the health and wellness of out users. We will never divulge personally identifiable information. We will never allow our data to re-victimize or shame a group or community. We will evaluate any requests for data will for their intent and potential for enhanced wellness.

- Judson B. Tunnell
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