BOSTON – Most dementia apps lack privacy policies, according to the results of a Harvard Medical School study that was published recently in the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry. “Despite tremendous growth in the number of health apps, little is known about the adequacy of protections for app users’ health data,” said the researchers. “This is particularly concerning for apps targeting dementia patients, whose cognitive impairment puts them at increased risk of privacy breaches.” Researchers evaluated 125 dementia apps, 33 of which had available privacy policies. They found that among policies detailing individual-level protections, the majority had missing information and acknowledged collecting individual data for internal purposes. Most also named instances in which user data would be shared with outside parties. “Bolstering safeguards and improving communication about privacy protections will help facilitate consumer trust in apps, thereby enabling greater use by adults with dementia and their caregivers,” the researchers concluded.
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