[Skip to Content]
[Skip to Content Landing]
May 21, 1982

Confidentiality Expectations of Patients, Physicians, and Medical Students

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Family and Community Medicine, University of Arizona Health Sciences Center, Tucson.

JAMA. 1982;247(19):2695-2697. doi:10.1001/jama.1982.03320440043032

One hundred seventy-seven patients, 53 medical students, and 109 house staff were surveyed by questionnaire regarding the confidentiality of information that patients give to physicians. Physicians and students reported discussing cases in situations in which most patients did not expect this to occur. These included discussions at parties (36% v 9%) and with spouses (51% v 17%), and identification of patients by name (60% v 23%). Both patients and medical personnel thought it was common to discuss cases with other physicians, even at large meetings, for additional opinions or because of interest. However, patients were less likely than physicians to think that this occurred (90% v 51%). Medical students in their first 60 days of training responded more like physicians than like the lay public. Physicians responded similarly at various levels of training. Primary v non-primary care physicians showed no differences in response.

(JAMA 1982;247:2695-2697)