LEFO - Legeforskningsinstituttet

Institute for Studies of the Medical Profession

IPOQ 2013: Research on health and working conditions of the medical profession

Lise Tevik Løvseth and Ann Fridner

Associations between confidentiality requirements, support seeking and health. Research among university hospital physicians in Europe - The HOUPE study
7. november 2013

Lise Tevik Løvseth, dr. philos, is a researcher and post-doc at Department of Research and Development (AFFU), Division of Mental Health Care, St Olavs University Hospital /Department of Psychology (NTNU) in Trondheim. Her main area of interest is work and organisational psychology. In 2007 she started as research associate at AFFU. She received her PhD on patient/client confidentiality and professionals health in 2011 at NTNU. Her main research interests are work, organization and health among professionals in emergency and health services. Since 2002, she has been Norwegian project manager in the HOUPE study: Health and Organisation among University hospital Physicians in Europe (www.houpe.no).

Ann Fridner is an international coordinator and principal investigator for the HOUPE Study (Health and Organisation among University Hospital Physicians in Europe), and prinicipal investigator for the HOPOC Study (Health and Organisation among Physicians in Outpatient Care). She is an associate professor in psychology, licensed psychologist and psychotherapist, Department of Psychology, Stockholm University and Centre of Gender Medicine, Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden.

Associations between confidentiality requirements, support seeking and health among university hospital physicians in Europe – The  HOUPE study  
Collaborator Marie Gustafsson Sendén, project manager HOUPE Sweden, Department of Psychology, Stockholm University and Centre of Gender Medicine, Karolinska Institute, Stockholm

As resources of social support can modify the process of stress, patient confidentiality may increase risk of health problems among doctors by interfering with proper stress adaptation by seeking support, termed as the subjective burden of confidentiality. The study investigated the prevalence of subjective burden of confidentiality, and whether this are associated with mental health and burnout among physicians. We used data of 2078 university hospital physicians from Norway, Sweden, Iceland and Italy that participated in phase I of the HOUPE study (Health and Organization among University hospital Physicians in Europe). The participants completed measures of mental health (GHQ-12), burnout (Molbi), (Index) of Confidentiality as a Barrier for Support (ICBS) and factors of social resources and job demands. Concerns about protecting patient’s privacy were experienced as a limitation in the opportunity to obtain and utilize social support by many physicians. Regression analysis showed that ICBS was significantly associated with mental health and the burnout dimension of Exhaustion and not with Disengagement. These findings were present when controlling for factors known to diminish or increase the likelihood of and mental health problems and burnout. These results are the first to demonstrate that patient confidentiality is a relevant factor in support seeking and associated with health in the process of stress management among European physicians. 

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