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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