What is a Certificate of Confidentiality?

A Certificate of Confidentiality (CoC) authorizes withholding the names and other identifying characteristics of individuals who participate as subjects in the research project specified in the Certificate. This authorization applies to all persons who, in the performance of their duties in connection with the research project, have access to information which would identify the subjects of that research.

Persons so authorized may not, at any time, be compelled to provide the names or other identifying characteristics of the research subjects encompassed by the Certificate in any Federal, State, or local civil, criminal, administrative, legislative or other proceedings.

The Certificate must be in effect at the time of subject participation for the information to be protected. However, when this condition is met,  the information is protected permanently.  There are however unusual circumstances that could impair the effectiveness of the CoC.  For example, in circumstances where a subpoena is issued prior to issuance of the CoC, the investigator may be compelled to disclose information. In other words, an application for a CoC may not be protective until the certificate is actually issued.  

NIAAA accepts applications for Certificates of Confidentiality for alcohol-specific projects. 
For more information, please contact:

Isabel Ellis, MSW 
Certificate of Confidentiality Coordinator 
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, NIH 
6700B Rockledge Drive 
Room 2143, MSC 6902
Bethesda, MD 20892–6902  
(for Express Mail; UPS etc., use Bethesda, MD 20817-6902) 
Tele. 301.443.8771       FAX 301.480-1726 
Email:  iellis@mail.nih.gov

 Visit the NIH CoC Kiosk for background information, a comprehensive list of FAQs, suggested consent language, assurance template, and other information.

Apply for a Certificate of Confidentiality

 CoC requests to NIAAA should be submitted at http://grants.nih.gov/grants/policy/coc/welcome.htm