Journal of Medical Ethics and History of Medicine 2018. 11(0):.

Do patients know that physicians should be confidential? A study on patients’ awareness of privacy and confidentiality
Mohammad Mohammadi, Bagher Larijani, Seyed Hassan Emami Razavi, Akbar Fotouhi, Ahmad Ghaderi, Sayed Javad Madani, Mohammad Naser Shafiee


Privacy and confidentiality are among the inalienable rights of every human being that contribute to preservation of a sense of reverence and dignity. The present study was conducted to examine patients’ awareness of their entitlement to these important rights.

This cross-sectional study was conducted on 200 patients in Tehran, Iran during the year 2010. Collected data included patients’ demographics (age, gender, marital status, place of residence, and educational level), type of hospital ward, frequency of hospitalization, duration of hospital stay, and patients’ awareness of privacy and confidentiality. Two trained interviewers gathered the data using a self-made questionnaire, which was specifically designed to assess patients’ awareness of privacy and confidentiality. Validity and reliability of the questionnaire were determined using content validity and Cronbach's Coefficient Alpha (a = 0.7), respectively. To analyze data, patients were assigned to three categories of poor (0 ≤ scores ≤ 3), moderate (4 ≤ scores ≤ 7) and good (8 ≤ scores ≤ 10) levels of awareness. Statistical analysis was performed by SPSS software version 21.

The results showed that 21% of the patients had poor, 72% moderate, and 7% good awareness of privacy and confidentiality, with a mean of 4.61 ± 1.63. In this study, 153 patients (76.5%) provided a correct definition of privacy, and 161 patients (80.5%) were aware of instances of privacy violation. In addition, a good level of awareness was found in 77 patients (38.5%) in terms of physician confidentiality, and in 158 patients (81.4%) regarding confidentiality of examination results and medical consultations. Our study results highlight the necessity to inform patients about the ethical and legal issues related to privacy and confidentiality, before or during admission.


Privacy, Confidentiality, Awareness, Medical ethics

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