Background: Data have become an essential factor in driving health research and are key to the development of personalized and precision medicine. Primary and secondary use of personal data holds significant potential for research; however, it also introduces a new set of challenges around consent processes, privacy, and data sharing. Research institutions have issued ethical guidelines to address challenges and ensure responsible data processing and data sharing. However, ethical guidelines directed at researchers and medical professionals are often complex; require readers who are familiar with specific terminology; and can be hard to understand for people without sufficient background knowledge in legislation, research, and data processing practices. Objective: This study aimed to visually represent an ethics framework to make its content more accessible to its stakeholders. More generally, we wanted to explore the potential of visualizing policy documents to combat and prevent research misconduct by improving the capacity of actors in health research to handle data responsibly. Methods: We used a mixed methods approach based on knowledge visualization with 3 sequential steps: qualitative content analysis (open and axial coding, among others); visualizing the knowledge structure, which resulted from the previous step; and adding interactive functionality to access information using rapid prototyping. Results: Through our iterative methodology, we developed a tool that allows users to explore an ethics framework for data sharing through an interactive visualization. Our results represent an approach that can make policy documents easier to understand and, therefore, more applicable in practice. Conclusions: Meaningful communication and understanding each other remain a challenge in various areas of health care and medicine. We contribute to advancing communication practices through the introduction of knowledge visualization to bioethics to offer a novel way to tackle this relevant issue.
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