Barriers to Confidentiality Protection in Adolescent Health Care: A Survey of Serbian Primary Healthcare Paediatricians and Gynaecologists

Vida Jeremic Stojkovic, Bojana Matejic, Smiljana Cvjetkovic, Tatjana Gazibara

Abstract

Objective − To explore the perceived barriers to confidentiality of adolescent patients among paediatricians and gynaecologists who work in the primary healthcare setting in Belgrade, Serbia.

Materials and Methods − A cross-sectional survey was carried out in 13 primary healthcare institutions in Belgrade, Serbia. A total of 152 paediatricians and gynaecologists filled a self-administered questionnaire. The study instrument was developed for the purpose of this study. Beside socio-demographic characteristics, the questionnaire included a 5-point Likert’s scale to assess the respondents’ degree of agreement with potential barriers to confidential healthcare services. Results were analyzed using t-test, Chi-square test and linear regression models.

Results − The majority of respondents (67.1%) indicated that limited time per patient posed a significant barrier to confidential consultation with adolescent patients. This was observed as a consequence of insufficient number of physicians working in primary care institutions. More than a half of respondents recognized a lack of adolescent gynaecologist and inadequate legal definitions as factors that may breach adolescents’ right to confidentiality.

Conclusion − This study highlights specific obstacles within the healthcare system that need to be addressed in order to respect confidentiality as one of the key characteristics of a safe and supportive adolescent healthcare service. Physicians working with adolescents need to be informed about comprehensive legal guidelines. At a national level, addressing human resources in healthcare could improve adolescent healthcare service.

Keywords

Confidentiality; Adolescent Health Services; Physicians; Primary care; Surveys and Questionnaires

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