Evolution of Medical Students' Perception of the Patient's Right to Privacy

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2022 Sep 4;19(17):11067. doi: 10.3390/ijerph191711067.


During clinical rotations, medical students experience situations in which the patients' right to privacy may be violated. The aim of this study is to analyze medical students' perception of clinical situations that affect patients' right to privacy, and to look for the influential factors that may contribute to the infringement on their rights, such as the students' age, sex, academic year or parents' educational level. A cross-sectional study was conducted with a survey via "Google Drive". It consisted of 16 questions about personal information, 24 questions about their experience when rotating and 21 questions about their opinion concerning several situations related to the right to privacy. A total of 129 medical students from various Spanish medical schools participated. Only 31% of 3rd-6th year students declared having signed a confidentiality agreement when starting their clinical practice, and most students (52%) reported that doctors "sometimes", "rarely" or "never" introduce themselves and the students when entering the patients' rooms. Additionally, about 50% of all students reported that they would take a picture of a patient's hospitalization report without his/her (consent), which would be useful for an assignment. Important mistakes during medical students' rotations have been observed, as well as a general lack of knowledge regarding patient's right to privacy among Spanish medical students. Men and older students showed better knowledge of current legislation, as well as those whose parents were both university-educated and those in higher academic years.

Keywords: clinical practice; health policy teaching; medical students; patient consent; privacy.

MeSH terms

  • Confidentiality
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Patient Rights
  • Perception
  • Privacy*
  • Students, Medical*

Grant support

This research received no external funding.