The Physician Assistant Education Association (PAEA or the Association) serves as the primary source of data and research on PA education. PAEA is the owner and custodian of aggregated data collected from its members, which includes data from the following sources: institutions, faculty and staff, applicants to programs, students, and graduates. Every year, reports and data files are produced by the Research Team with the assistance of the Communications Team. Data files are made available to members and other researchers for secondary analysis. PAEA will not honor requests from students (graduate or undergraduate). However, the student’s faculty advisor may initiate a request. The Association seeks to maintain an appropriate balance between allowing data access to authorized individuals and minimizing exposure to risks, such as accidental loss or damage, unauthorized access, malicious misuse, and inadvertent alteration or disclosure. The PAEA Research Team will also be guided in its decisions for dissemination of data by the terms of the Institutional Review Board (IRB) protocols and approvals.
The following principles guide the dissemination of data and reports:
- PAEA and the profession benefit from wide dissemination of educational research, aggregated program data, and aggregated data on faculty, applicants, students, and graduates.
- Participation in PAEA surveys, compliance with additional requests for data and information, and membership entitle institutional and individual members in good standing access to reports and basic data.
- Individual survey participant data must remain secure and not be distributed to individuals beyond the PAEA Research Team or to those entrusted with the data, such as PAEA-authorized contractors.
- To protect sensitive information, such as faculty salaries and some demographics, data will only be reported if the aggregate data (i.e., the “n”) exceeds four values. PAEA reserves the right to restrict access to certain fields that have the potential to associate sensitive data with an individual or institution.
Types of Data
- Unrestricted data are easily or generally available through web sites, reports, publications, or other means of public access. These data are already aggregated into reports and individual responses and are not identifiable. Faculty and Program Directory information is considered non-restricted and includes the individual’s name, position title (e.g., program director), and institutional affiliation. Directory information is not protected unless an individual specifically makes a written request to PAEA. Directory information may be restricted by PAEA for certain uses including, but not limited to, marketing and personal research projects not approved through the processes described below. Student demographic data (e.g., age, gender, ethnicity, race) at the program level are considered to be unrestricted. These data may also be published in reports only available to PAEA member programs in order to track racial and ethnic diversity in PA education.
- Restricted data are data that are not published or generally available for general consumption but are owned by the Association. Restricted data files can only be released by the PAEA Research Team with oversight from the Research Council and direction from the Board of Directors. Released restricted data will not include program or individual identification. Only variables needed for the research will be released. The Research Team staff will work with the requester to provide data files that are likely to meet the research objectives while protecting the identity of individual institutions and members.
- Confidential data contains identifiable individual or program information beyond directory information and cannot be released without specific permission from the PAEA Research Team. Normally, these data will not be released without a compelling rationale for the need for confidential information and approval from the investigator’s institution’s IRB. To protect the integrity and confidentiality of the data sources, requests will be examined closely by Research Team staff to determine if it is appropriate to release the data. If released, this data cannot be published, reported, or disseminated in any manner that could potentially serve to identify individuals or programs.
Policies Regarding Data Requests and Sharing
- Requests for PAEA research assistance may come in several forms:
- Data on Demand
- Custom Reports
- Member contact/directory information (see below)
- Association (councils, committees, Board of Directors, staff, etc.) needs for Research Team assistance with data collection, analysis, reporting, and/or other research needs
- Collaborating agencies or organizations (e.g., AAMC, NCCPA, or AAPA) requests to partner with PAEA for data collection or reporting purposes
- Customized, research-related data file requests (e.g., requesting a subset of variables from the 2013 Program Survey) from members will be reviewed. Requests for data will be considered upon the likelihood of the research question and proposed methodology to contribute to the advancement of the Association or knowledge about the profession. The researcher must agree to data use and restriction terms, in addition to receiving IRB approval for any individual-level (e.g., student and faculty) data. Only requests for Program and Curriculum Survey data are exempt from IRB approval or exemption. PAEA will forward data files that are password-protected to assure the security of the data. The researcher must acknowledge PAEA in any publication or presentation that results from the data provided by PAEA. Data requests that will likely advance the research goals of PAEA and/or are in line with the PAEA Strategic Plan will be given higher priority.
- Currently, member cost is calculated at a rate of $50.00 per hour for staff time that exceeds one hour per calendar year. The one-hour fee waiver does not apply to requests for students, including PA students. Non-members are charged $100.00 per hour with no waiver of the first hour. Members must have completed the survey section(s) for which they are requesting data. For example, if requesting tuition data, that program must have provided tuition data for the survey.
- Generally, PAEA does not honor requests for directory information to be used for the purpose of distributing surveys or otherwise carrying out research projects (e.g., names, addresses, emails, role in program). These requests will only be approved in conjunction with a formal written request and will be contingent upon approval of the research request and IRB approval when applicable. Alternatively, members may:
- distribute surveys via PAEA’s professional learning communities’s surveys channel, or
- apply to participate in the STAR Program.
- User(s) will be required to sign an agreement specifying that member information will only be used for the approved research project and that member information will be destroyed upon completion of the project/publication of results. Individuals requesting data must provide assurances of appropriate security steps to limit access and protect data from unauthorized use or accidental loss. Any security breach must be reported immediately to the PAEA Research Team staff.
- User(s) are required to complete a brief follow-up survey so that PAEA can track outcomes of the data request program. A link to the survey will be sent to user(s) six months after the request is closed.
The Association may elect to use qualified vendors/contractors to assist with data “clean-up,” analysis, and/or generation of reports. Data provided to vendors may include restricted or confidential information. Vendors must assure PAEA that they have adequate data security processes/systems in place to only allow access to authorized users associated with the assigned project. Any security breaches must be immediately reported to PAEA. All vendors and contractors are required to sign PAEA’s Confidentiality, Academic Integrity, and Non-Disclosure Agreement.