What GDPR and the Health Research Regulations (HRRs) mean for Ireland: a research perspective_Open Access

Authors: Blanaid Mee, Mary Kirwan, Niamh Clarke, Aoife Tanaka, Lino Manaloto, Emma Halpin, Una Gibbons, Ann Cullen, Sarah McGarrigle, Elisabeth M Connolly, Kathleen Bennett, Eoin Gaffney, Ciaran Flanagan, Laura Tier, Richard Flavin & Noel G. McElvaney

Date: 29/07/2020

Volume, Year and Page number: 190, pages505–514 (2021)



Irish Health Research Regulations (HRRs) were introduced following the European Union (EU) General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in 2018. The HRRs described specific supplementary regulatory requirements for research regarding governance, processes and procedure that impact on several facets of research. The numerous problems that the HRRs and particularly “explicit consent” inadvertently created were presented under the auspices of the Irish Academy of Medical Sciences (IAMS) on November 25, 2019, at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland.


The objective of this review was to obtain feedback and to examine the impact of GDPR and the HRRs on health research in Ireland in order to determine whether the preliminary feedback, presented at the IAMS meetings, was reflected at a national level.


Individuals from the research community were invited to provide feedback on the impact, if any, of the HRRs on health research. Retrospective patient recruitment and consent outside a hospital setting for a multi-institutional Breast Predict study (funded by the Irish Cancer Society) were also analysed.


Feedback replicated the issues presented at the IAMS with additional concerns identified. Only 20% of the original target population (n = 1987) could be included in the Breast Predict study.


Our results confirm that the HRRs have had a significantly negative impact on health research in Ireland. Urgent meaningful engagement between patient advocate groups, the research community and legislators would help ameliorate these impacts.


  • Consent
  • Data protection
  • GDPR
  • Irish Health Research Regulation
  • Patients & Data protection

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Irish Journal of Medical Science