Skip to main content
main-content

01.12.2011 | Research article | Ausgabe 1/2011 Open Access

BMC Public Health 1/2011

Physician privacy concerns when disclosing patient data for public health purposes during a pandemic influenza outbreak

Zeitschrift:
BMC Public Health > Ausgabe 1/2011
Autoren:
Khaled El Emam, Jay Mercer, Katherine Moreau, Inese Grava-Gubins, David Buckeridge, Elizabeth Jonker
Wichtige Hinweise

Electronic supplementary material

The online version of this article (doi:10.​1186/​1471-2458-11-454) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

Competing interests

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Authors' contributions

KEE designed the study, performed data analysis, and contributed to writing the paper. JM designed the study and contributed to writing the paper. KM collected the data, performed data analysis, and contributed to writing the paper. IGG designed the study and contributed to writing the paper. DB designed the study and contributed to writing the paper. EJ coordinated the study and contributed to writing the paper. All of the authors have read and approved the final manuscript.

Abstract

Background

Privacy concerns by providers have been a barrier to disclosing patient information for public health purposes. This is the case even for mandated notifiable disease reporting. In the context of a pandemic it has been argued that the public good should supersede an individual's right to privacy. The precise nature of these provider privacy concerns, and whether they are diluted in the context of a pandemic are not known. Our objective was to understand the privacy barriers which could potentially influence family physicians' reporting of patient-level surveillance data to public health agencies during the Fall 2009 pandemic H1N1 influenza outbreak.

Methods

Thirty seven family doctors participated in a series of five focus groups between October 29-31 2009. They also completed a survey about the data they were willing to disclose to public health units. Descriptive statistics were used to summarize the amount of patient detail the participants were willing to disclose, factors that would facilitate data disclosure, and the consensus on those factors. The analysis of the qualitative data was based on grounded theory.

Results

The family doctors were reluctant to disclose patient data to public health units. This was due to concerns about the extent to which public health agencies are dependable to protect health information (trusting beliefs), and the possibility of loss due to disclosing health information (risk beliefs). We identified six specific actions that public health units can take which would affect these beliefs, and potentially increase the willingness to disclose patient information for public health purposes.

Conclusions

The uncertainty surrounding a pandemic of a new strain of influenza has not changed the privacy concerns of physicians about disclosing patient data. It is important to address these concerns to ensure reliable reporting during future outbreaks.
Zusatzmaterial
Additional file 1: Summary of Health Reporting Literature. A literature review of empirical studies evaluating the extent to which providers report communicable diseases where reporting is mandated. (PDF 198 KB)
12889_2011_3236_MOESM1_ESM.PDF
Authors’ original file for figure 1
12889_2011_3236_MOESM2_ESM.eps
Authors’ original file for figure 2
12889_2011_3236_MOESM3_ESM.jpeg
Literatur
Über diesen Artikel

Weitere Artikel der Ausgabe 1/2011

BMC Public Health 1/2011 Zur Ausgabe