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confidentiality, disclosure limitation, surveillance data



  1. Delcher, Philip Christopher MS
  2. Edwards, Kristine T. MA, DVM, MPH
  3. Stover, Jeffrey Allen MPH
  4. Newman, Lori Marie MD
  5. Groseclose, Samuel L. DVM, MPH, DACVPM
  6. Rajnik, Diane M. MPH


Objectives: This study investigates the data suppression or statistical disclosure limitation (DL) practices used during surveillance data Release by sexually transmitted disease (STD) prevention programs.


Methods: We classified DL strategies from a Web-based data query system that collected data from state health departments. We tested mean STD incidence Rates in states that used data suppression versus those that did not.


Results: Five types of DL were identified: no suppression (n = 15), numerator-only (n = 10), denominator-only (n = 6), demographic-only (n = 7), and mixed strategies (n = 12). Twenty-two states (62%) used data suppression strategies differently through time. Chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis Rates were higher in the nonsuppression states than those of the suppression states (P = .03, P = .008, P = .009, Respectively).


Conclusions: Cell suppression is the preferred method of DL used by STD prevention programs. More Research is needed to evaluate the effectiveness of this strategy as a means of balancing the public health utility of the data tables and the protection of confidentiality.