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Parental Perspectives on Adolescent Health-Related Confidentiality: Trust, Responsibility, and Disease Etiology as Key Themes

      Abstract

      Purpose

      As children progress through adolescence, they become more independent and more responsible regarding their health. This shift in responsibility from the parents to the adolescent poses a challenge for healthcare professionals who must consider both parties. Pediatricians and other healthcare professionals may encounter problems regarding consent and confidentiality. This study aimed to investigate the opinions of Belgian parents of adolescents concerning cases about confidentiality in adolescent health problems.

      Methods

      A qualitative methodology with semi-structured interviews and a case-based approach was chosen to answer our study aim. Belgian parents of adolescents were recruited voluntarily; 20 parents were interviewed. Parents’ opinions on four different cases regarding confidentiality were obtained. Interviews were audio- and video-recorded and transcribed verbatim. Independent coding of the transcripts was conducted.

      Results

      Parents’ opinions differ considerably when asked if a physician has to maintain confidentiality toward the adolescent, depending on the content of the case. Opinions appear underpinned by three factors: trust, responsibility of the different parties, and the etiology of the problem.

      Discussion

      This study shows that the nature, severity, and frequency of the medical issue at hand shape the opinions of parents toward patient confidentiality, on top of the trust and responsibility factors also highlighted in previous work. This is in contrast to the Belgian legislation, which focuses on maturity regardless of context.

      Keywords

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