Skip to main content

Research Repository

Advanced Search

Public attitudes towards sharing loyalty card data for academic health research: a qualitative study

Dolan, Elizabeth H.; Shiells, Kate; Goulding, James; Skatova, Anya


Elizabeth H. Dolan

Kate Shiells

Anya Skatova


Background: A growing number of studies show the potential of loyalty card data for use in health research. However , research into public perceptions of using this data is limited. This study aimed to investigate public attitudes towards donating loyalty card data for academic health research, and the safeguards the public would want to see implemented. The way in which participant attitudes varied according to whether loyalty card data would be used for either cancer or COVID-19 research was also examined. Methods: Participants (N = 40) were recruited via Prolific Academic to take part in semi-structured telephone interviews , with questions focused on data sharing related to either COVID-19 or ovarian/bowel cancer as the proposed health condition to be researched. Content analysis was used to identify sub-themes corresponding to the two a priori themes, attitudes and safeguards. Results: Participant attitudes were found to fall into two categories, either rational or emotional. Under rational, most participants were in favour of sharing loyalty card data. Support of health research was seen as an important reason to donate such data, with loyalty card logs being considered as already within the public domain. With increased understanding of research purpose, participants expressed higher willingness to donate data. Within the emotional category, participants shared fears about revealing location information and of third parties obtaining their data. With regards to safeguards, participants described the importance of anonymisation and the level of data detail; the control, convenience and choice they desired in sharing data; and the need for transparency and data security. The change in hypothetical purpose of the data sharing, from Covid-19 to cancer research, had no impact on participants' decision to donate, although did affect their understanding of how loyalty card data could be used. Conclusions: Based on interviews with the public, this study contributes recommendations for those researchers and the wider policy community seeking to obtain loyalty card data for health research. Whilst participants were largely in favour of donating loyalty card data for academic health research, information, choice and appropriate safeguards are all exposed as prerequisites upon which decisions are made.


Dolan, E. H., Shiells, K., Goulding, J., & Skatova, A. (2022). Public attitudes towards sharing loyalty card data for academic health research: a qualitative study. BMC Medical Ethics, 23(1), Article 58.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date May 4, 2022
Online Publication Date Jun 7, 2022
Publication Date 2022-12
Deposit Date Jan 16, 2023
Publicly Available Date Jan 16, 2023
Journal BMC Medical Ethics
Electronic ISSN 1472-6939
Publisher Springer Verlag
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 23
Issue 1
Article Number 58
Keywords Health Policy; Health (social science); Issues, ethics and legal aspects
Public URL
Publisher URL


You might also like

Downloadable Citations