Reference Documents for 2016 MIT Mental Health Survey Data Issues

Below are reference documents surrounding concerns raised in 2016 regarding MIT's use of highly sensitive mental health survey data, specifically concerns about breach of anonymity, lack of expected protections against disclosure, and inappropriate use for punitive actions.

June 10, 2016 June 10, 2016 letter from MIT's L. Rafael Reif, Cynthia Barnhart, Martin A. Schmidt, and Maria T. Zuber to MIT residence, announcing sanctions based on issues including unsubstantiated claims of illegal drug use [PDF File]
June 10, 2016 MIT News article with officials' unsubstantiated comments from about illegal drugs [MIT] | [PDF Snapshot]
June 10, 2016 June 10, 2016 letter from MIT official to parents of residents, with unsubstantiated comments about illegal drugs [PDF File]
June 10, 2016 Article in MIT's The Tech newspaper by Emma Bingham and Karleigh Moore, with MIT official's comments about illegal drugs in subhead and first sentence. [The Tech site] | [PDF Snapshot]
June 16, 2016 Email from reporter Emma Bingham of MIT's The Tech newspaper describing surprise interview with official [Email]
June 16, 2016 MIT Housing Web page with red-letters announcing closure w/ link to MIT News article about drugs [PDF Snapshot]
June 10, 2016 June 10, 2016 letter from MIT official to alumni of residence, with unsubstantiated comments about illegal drugs [PDF File]
July 6, 2016 July 6, 2016 article in MIT's The Tech newspaper, by Karleigh Moore, with official's non-response to questions about use of survey data [The Tech site] | [PDF Snapshot]
September, 2015 September 2015 HMS Survey results as published [MIT site] | [PDF Snapshot]
April 22, 2015 Initial Health Minds Survey invitation from MIT official [Email]
May 14, 2015 Followup invite from MIT official to MIT students to take Healthy Minds survey, including monetary incentives for participation and recruitment [Email]
2016 FAQ promising anonymity of Healthy Minds results as used by MIT.

This FAQ was published by MIT as late as May 11, 2016, less than a month before announcement of sanctions.

This FAQ was deleted by MIT on or before July 2, 2016, less than a month after questions were raised about use of survey data.

Prior to deletion, this FAQ had been online for over a year, since at least April 25, 2015.

July 6, 2016 Healthy Minds FAQ promising protection against forced disclosure via Certificate of Confidentiality [Healthy Minds site] | [PDF Snapshot]
July, 2016 Federal Law authorizing NIH to issue protections for confidential data. Public Health Service Act, 42 U.S.C. 241(d), Section 301(d)

See "(d) The Secretary may authorize persons engaged ..." halfway down the third page.

[PDF, p. 3]
July, 2016 Assurances given by researchers applying for NIH protection that they will comply with Federal regulation 45 CFR Part 46 [NIH web] | [PDF Snapshot]
July, 2016 NIH admonition to researchers concerning duty not to disclose, even after being granted protection against compelled disclosure (see "Caveat" at bottom) N[IH web] | [PDF Snapshot]
July, 2016 45 CFR Part 46 - SUBPART A - Basic HHS Policy for Protection of Human Research Subjects
  • §46.111 (a) (7) When appropriate, there are adequate provisions to protect the privacy of subjects and to maintain the confidentiality of data.
  • §46.116 (a) (5) A statement describing the extent, if any, to which confidentiality of records identifying the subject will be maintained;
August, 2016 NIH disclosure protection obligations for participating site (MIT) using a lead site (U. Michigan) survey.

See section "C. ELIGIBILITY FOR A CERTIFICATE" sixth question down, "I am planning a multi-site trial ...":
"... a coordinating center or lead institution can apply for and receive a Certificate on behalf of all member institutions. ... the lead site is expected to maintain a current listing of all the participating sites, including addresses and project directors. In addition, the lead site should obtain signed assurances from each participating institution, as well as their FWA numbers and copies of their IRB approvals. ... The lead site should also develop appropriate agreements, with the participating institutions, to implement the assurances. ..."

[NIH web] | [PDF Snapshot, p. 6]
June, 2016 Response from Senior House to June 10, 2016 Sanctions [Web] | [PDF]
June 16, 2016 Response from community to sanctions prohibiting freshman residence. [PDF]
July 11, 2016 (request), December 6, 2016 (response) Inquiry to National Institutes of Health concerning confidentiality assurances made by those conducting Healthy Minds surveys at University of Michigan and MIT. [PDF] (54 pp.)
June 27 - December 14, 2016 Open letter to MIT from 200 citizens encouraging disclosure of treatment of survey data and explanation of public comments. [PDF] (15 pp.)
December 30, 2016 Informational package sent to researchers and officials at MIT and University of Michigan regarding conduct of the Healthy Minds Survey and appearances of issues. [PDF] (81 pp.)

About this site