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September 1983

The Privilege Study

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Psychiatry, University of Texas Health Science Center (Dr Weiner), and School of Law, Southern Methodist University (Mr Shuman), Dallas.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1983;40(9):1027-1030. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1983.01790080109014

• We evaluated the impact of the Texas limited privilege statute, enacted in 1979, through a questionnaire study of 121 lay persons, 79 patients receiving psychiatric outpatient treatment, and 84 psychiatrists. An almost equal percentage of lay persons and patients knew or guessed correctly that the statute existed (26% v 27%), but only 45% of the psychiatrists knew or guessed correctly that it had been enacted. Lay persons indicated that they might disclose more to a psychiatrist or psychologist if they had statutory protection, but only a few of the patients said they would have sought treatment earlier or would have disclosed more had they known of a privilege statute. Patients reported that they relied more heavily on their psychiatrists' ethics than on the statute to protect their privacy.

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