Confidentiality with adolescents in the medical setting: What do parents think?

Rony E. Duncan, Moya Vandeleur, Anouk Derks, Susan Sawyer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

48 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: When confidential health care is provided to adolescents they are more likely to seek care, disclose sensitive information, and return for future visits. Guidelines for health professionals recommend seeing young people alone to facilitate confidential care. We sought to document parental views regarding confidentiality with adolescents, aiming to identify topics that parents believe they should be informed about despite an assurance of confidentiality between their child and the doctor. We also aimed to document harms and benefits that parents associate with adolescents seeing doctors alone. Methods: A sample of 86 parents attending an adolescent medicine clinic with their son/daughter was surveyed using a brief, anonymous questionnaire. Results: Parents identified several benefits associated with confidential care, yet also believed they should be informed about a wide range of topics, even if their children did not want them to know. Parents' primary concern about confidentiality was a fear of not being informed about important information. Conclusions: Parental views concerning confidentiality are complex and conflicting and differ from current guidance provided to health professionals. Ensuring that parents accurately understand the limits to confidentiality and support the notion of confidential care for their children is a challenging yet vital task for health professionals.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)428-430
Number of pages3
JournalJournal of Adolescent Health
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Adolescent
  • Confidentiality
  • Ethics
  • Privacy

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