Thursday, July 19, 2007

Public demands consent for patient record use

We hear over and over again from the Department of Health and various medical research bodies that concerns over patient privacy are overblown, and that the public interest in research using patient records outweighs the requirement for privacy and consent.

These statements have just been dealt a dramatic blow by a large-scale qualitative and quantitative study commissioned by the Medical Research Council from Mori. Their key conclusion (p.9):

Results indicate that a majority of the general public feels that consent should always be sought. When given a variety of scenarios in which consent might not be essential, no more than a third of the public agrees with them. In Ipsos MORI’s experience, this is quite low. Indeed just over one in five (21%) does not find any of the scenarios acceptable. The public is most likely to say consent is not important when the information is ‘not generally regarded as being sensitive’ (35%). This is closely followed by when consent has already been given for use in a previous project (29%). These are two situations that also came out in the qualitative work as times when some (but not all) participants feel that consent is not always essential.

No comments: