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P124 Confidentiality in sexual health clinics: A service evaluation of patients’ understandings and attitudes to additional confidentiality protections
  1. Qiang Lu1,
  2. Emily Clarke2,
  3. Raj Patel1,3,
  4. Harriet Eatwell1,
  5. Rohilla Maarij1
  1. 1School of Medicine, University of Southampton, Southampton, UK
  2. 2Department of Sexual Health, Solent NHS Trust, St Mary’s Community Health Campus, Portsmouth, UK
  3. 3Department of Sexual Health, Solent NHS Trust, Royal South Hants Hospital, Southampton, UK


Background/introduction UK sexual health clinics provide patients with additional confidentiality by having separate patient records systems, and by not routinely communicating with General Practitioners (GPs). However, research into patients’ awareness of these policies is limited.

Aim(s)/objectives To assess patients’ knowledge and perceptions of additional confidentiality protections in sexual health clinics.

Methods A self-administered anonymous questionnaire (approved by Trust Clinical Governance Committee) was distributed prospectively to 200 patients attending two level 3 UK sexual health clinics.

Results Response rate was 178/200 (89.0%). 46/178 (25.8%) patients were aware that sexual health records are kept separately from other medical records, and 89/178 (50.0%) had never been told how their notes are handled. After learning more about confidentiality protections in sexual health clinics, 47/178 (26.4%) reported that they would be more likely to give GP details, 67/178 (37.6%) to give updated contact details, and 58/178 (32.6%) to disclose an accurate sexual history to clinicians. Patients were less confident that their information is kept confidential in the reception area compared to the treatment area (46.9% vs 77.3% feel definitely confident). 16/17 free-text comments received complained about personal information being overheard when registering at the reception.

Discussion/conclusion Sexual health clinics should ensure they provide basic information on additional confidentiality protections, in order to increase the likelihood of patients disclosing intimate information, and ensuring they can be contacted. Efforts to improve patients’ perception of confidentiality in reception areas are vital and need to be considered carefully when designing units.

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