Confidentiality as a barrier to support seeking among physicians: The influence of psychosocial work factors in four European hospitals (The HOUPE study)

Løvseth LT, Aasland OG, Fridner A, Schenck-Gustafsson K, Jónsdóttir LS, Einarsdóttir T, Marini M, Minucci D, Pavan L, Götestam KG, Linaker OM. Work 2013; Sep 4 (Epub). In print edition Work 2014; 49 (1): 113-21.

Article in English.

Abstract on PubMed:  
BACKGROUND: Concerns about protecting patient's privacy can interfere with proper stress adaptation which isassociated with physician's health. It is important to investigate relevant organizational confounders to this phenomenon to enable interventions that can ameliorate the subjective burden of patient confidentiality. OBJECTIVES: This study investigatesfactors in the psychosocial work environment that can explain patient confidentiality's prominence in social support seeking among physicians, and if these factors covary differently with support seeking according to country. PARTICIPANTS: University hospital physicians in four European cities (N=2095) in Sweden, Norway, Iceland and Italy participated in a cross-sectional survey. METHODS: Questionnaire comprised items on psychosocial work environment, basic socio-demographics, presence of formal and informal meetings at work, and measurement of confidentiality as a barrier for support. RESULTS: High role conflict, availability of formal or informal meetings, lack of control over decisions, and lack of control over work pace were predictors of confidentiality as a barrier to support. There were differences between countries in how these factors covaried with confidentiality as a barrier to support. High role conflict was the strongest predictor of confidentiality as a barrier to support across all samples. CONCLUSIONS: Psychosocial work factors predicted confidentiality as a barrier to support seeking among physicians. It is important to create routines and an organizational framework that ensures both the patient's right to privacy and physician's ability to cope with emotional demanding situations from work.

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