Iranian Journal of Medical Sciences

Document Type : Original Article(s)


1 Department of Medical Ethics and History of Medicine, School of Persian Medicine, Kerman University of Medical Sciences, Kerman, Iran

2 Department of Health Information Sciences, Faculty of Management and Medical Information Sciences, Kerman University of Medical Sciences, Kerman, Iran

3 Neurology Research Center; and Department of Psychiatry, Shahid Beheshti Hospital, School of Medicine; Kerman University of Medical Sciences, Kerman, Iran

4 Clinical Informatics Research and Development Lab, Clinical Research Development Unit, Shafa Hospital, Kerman University of Medical Sciences, Kerman, Iran



Background: Patient’s privacy protection is a challenging ethical issue. The complex situation of the COVID-19 pandemic was a probable predictor of breaching confidentiality. This study aimed to assess the viewpoints of COVID-19-confirmed patients, who were hospitalized, and their healthcare providers about the compliance of different aspects of patient’s privacy.
Methods: This cross-sectional study included 3433 COVID-19-confirmed patients, who were hospitalized in Kerman, between 2020 and 2021, and about 1228 related physicians, nurses, and paraclinical staff. Two separate validated researcher-made questionnaires were developed, each including subscales for physical, informational, and spatial privacy, as well as a satisfaction rate of privacy protection. The data were analyzed using SPSS software version 26, with independent samples t test, Mann-Whitney-U, Kruskal Wallis, and Multiple Linear Regression tests at a 95% confidence interval.
Results: The mean percentages of the patients’ privacy scores in physical, spatial, and informational areas were significantly lower (P<0.001) than the average of the medical staff’s scores in all three areas (Difference: 10.27%, 14.83%, and 4.91%, respectively). Physical and spatial privacy scores could be predicted based on the participants’ classification, patients or medical staff, and sex. The mean patients’ satisfaction score was 9.25% lower than the medical staff’s (P<0.001). Moreover, only academic hospitals showed a statistically significant difference between the patient’s satisfaction with privacy protection and medical staff’s viewpoints (P<0.001).
Conclusion: Although this study indicated the benefits of protecting patients’ privacy in the healthcare setting, patients’ privacy scores and satisfaction were lower than their healthcare providers. The pandemic conditions might have been an obstacle to preserving patients’ rights. These findings demonstrated the importance of sensitizing healthcare providers to manage these ethical challenges in a complicated critical state such as the COVID-19 pandemic.


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