Patient’s expectations of privacy and confidentiality in Pakistan: a mixed-methods study

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Privacy and confidentiality are considered a cornerstone in the practice of medical ethics. However, these notions may play out differently in the cultural context of Pakistan. In order to understand the perceptions and expectations of privacy and confidentiality, a cross-sectional mixed method study was undertaken in a tertiary care hospital in Karachi, Pakistan. While the subjects demonstrated unfamiliarity with the Western terms, majority of them also exhibited a high expectation for privacy (both informational and physical) and confidentiality. Patients appeared most comfortable with sharing private medical information with the primary physician, indicating the level of trust placed in the physician. Participants also showed high expectations for confidentiality, thus, even in a collectivist society, patients may not want their private information shared across the medical team and also among family members. The onus is, therefore, on healthcare professionals to assess patients’ preferences and choices.

Keywords: Privacy, Confidentiality, Patient perception, Continuous...