Information about the use of personal data in the MINDMAP study

The goal of the MINDMAP project is to learn more about what the living environment means for, and can contribute to, the (mental) health of its residents. To do so, we compare 16 cities from Europe, Canada and the United States in the MINDMAP project, so that information on best practices and experiences can be shared. This is done by comparing data from 10 existing studies and linking them to characteristics of the living environment. Below, you can read how we handle data from these studies in the MINDMAP project and how your privacy is ensured. Naturally, we fully comply with European privacy regulations. Nevertheless, there may be reasons why you don’t want us to use your data for this project. If this is the case, we kindly ask you to fill in the contact form (click on this link). We will then remove your data from the MINDMAP project.

How is the data handled?

An anonymous data file of the various studies is placed on a secure and closed server. Through a ‘remote access’ system, authorized MINDMAP researchers can use the data to carry out a pre-approved research plan. The data on the MINDMAP server is completely anonymous and does not contain any privacy-sensitive information.

Who has access to the data?

Access is only given to authorized MINDMAP researchers. Each time, access is granted for one specific study on the basis of a pre-approved research plan.

Which data is used?

The served contains data on several factors. Most studies only have information available on some of these factors. Information is available on:

  1. Mental well-being and cognitive functioning outcomes (e.g. depressive symptoms and word recall test)
  2. Sociodemographic characteristics (e.g. gender, educational level)
  3. Health behavior characteristics (e.g. smoking and alcohol consumption)
  4. Social factors (e.g. social cohesion and social support)
  5. Physical function indicators (e.g. ability to walk or climb the stairs)
  6. Chronic conditions (e.g. diabetes and hypertension)
  7. Soluble biomarkers ( e.g. vitamin D) and genetic markers (e.g. APOE gene)
  8. Urban characteristics (e.g. access to green, neighborhood urbanicity)

How is my privacy guaranteed?

Several security measures have been taken to protect your privacy.

  1. All data is anonymous; personal information is never on the server.
  2. Data is only accessible to authorized MINDMAP researchers.
  3. Data on the server can only be used, it cannot be downloaded from the server.
  4. The server and its use are protected with the latest available security measures (e.g. SSL certificates, end-to-end encryption, firewall), which are also used for internet banking and online shopping.

How is the data anonymized?

The data is completely anonymized before it is stored on the MINDMAP server. Personal information is only available to the data manager of the original study. Neighborhood characteristics are linked to the study via a strictly regulated protocol and only the data manager of the original study is able to link neighborhood characteristics to the study. All personal information is deleted by the data manager before it is stored on the server. MINDMAP researchers never have access to personal information and can only use the anonymized data on the server.