Privacy and confidentiality in adolescent health care: perceptions and behavior of a group of 711 college students

OBJECTIVE:To understand the opinion and behavior of a group of college students about the degree of privacy considered appropriate in several clinical settings and in which situations breach of confidentiality is admitted. METHODS: An anonymous questionnaire about confidentiality in clinical settings was answered by 711 college students. The study had a transversal, descriptive, qualitative-quantitative design. We studied recognition of the ethical criteria for confidentiality limitation, and in which situations, common in adolescent morbidity, disclosure of this information is accepted. Data analysis used Epi-Info 6.04 and Microsoft Excel, 1997. The research was approved by PUCRS' IRB. RESULTS:The ideal situation for disclosing information was considered by 82% of the adolescents as the previous granting of authorization, which differs from other forms of breaching confidentiality. In cases of non-authorized disclosure, most of them admitted that it in case of suicidal ideation (85%), violence (84.2%), sexual abuse (81.7%), nervous anorexia (81.3%) and risk of life to third parties (72.3%). Half of them agree to it in HIV/AIDS (57.9%), drug abuse (51.7%) and STD (44.7%) situations; less than one third accept it in situations of pregnancy (33.6%), homosexuality (20.7%) and sexual activity (15.6%). CONCLUSION: Participants assigned different grades to the value of confidentiality in their health care, accepting that information may be disclosed to others when the patient authorizes it. The higher the risk to their integrity, the easier it was for them to admit non-authorized disclosure of information, however in aspects related to their sexuality disclosure is practically denied.

Adolescent behavior; Privacy; Confidentiality

Associação Médica Brasileira R. São Carlos do Pinhal, 324, 01333-903 São Paulo SP - Brazil, Tel: +55 11 3178-6800, Fax: +55 11 3178-6816 - São Paulo - SP - Brazil