This proposed health survey is in line with the updating of the responsibilities entrusted to the public health Director regarding the function of surveillance of the population’s health status and health determinants. In particular, under Section 43 of the Public Health Act (PHA), the latter is responsible for submitting the proposed survey to the CESP and for ensuring compliance with rules relating to the confidentiality and protection of personal information.
According to the new legislative safeguards stemming from the PHA (related to the updating of the surveillance function on the one hand and the role of the public health ethics committee on the other), since a proposed survey is one of the data sources that provides the information needed for the production of a surveillance plan, it should be directly linked to the latter. However, given that these measures have been implemented recently and work on the proposed survey has already begun, the CESP deemed the project admissible, pursuant to the mandate conferred to it under Section 20 of the Public Health Act.
The following documents were submitted to the CESP: the survey research design, the first draft of the questionnaires to be administered in August 2004 and then the revised versions, the information sheets as well as the consent forms intended for young people aged 15-17 and those aged 18 or over respectively.
The project was first discussed in working groups, then in a meeting of the entire CESP. Discussions took place between the CESP’s secretary and the project directors as well as members of the CESP. As mentioned in the Foreword, the survey directors reviewed a number of discussions with their working groups and the Consultative Committee so as to follow them up further. The last version of the documents was submitted to the CESP on June 18, 2004. The present opinion was adopted by the CESP at its regular meeting on Monday June 21, 2004.
It should be pointed out that, in its work process, the CESP favours providing support to the project directors in identifying the ethical dimensions of the project, discussing the significance of these elements and, if applicable, identifying the measures likely to improve the project in terms of respect for certain values or the reduction or elimination of undesirable consequences for the targeted individuals or population groups.
Thus, on the basis of the documents initially submitted to the CESP in January 2004 and in light of their evolution until June 18, the CESP’s comments and recommendations are presented here.