Utilization Pattern and Privacy Issues in the use of Health Records for Research Practice by Doctors: Selected Nigerian Teaching Hospitals as Case Study

Utilization Pattern and Privacy Issues in the use of Health Records for Research Practice by Doctors: Selected Nigerian Teaching Hospitals as Case Study

Eunice Olubunmi Omidoyin (Department of Health Information Management, University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital, Ilorin, Nigeria), Rosaline Oluremi Opeke (Department of Information Resource Management, Babcock University, Ilishan Remo, Nigeria) and Gordon Kayode Osagbemi (Department of Epidemiology and Community Health, University of Ilorin, Ilorin, Nigeria)
DOI: 10.4018/IJPHIM.2016010101
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Abstract

Research is a fundamental activity in teaching hospitals, and medical doctors use information contained in health records for research. In this process, researchers are often confronted with privacy issues. It is however not clear the extent to which doctors paid attention to this privacy issues in their research. The purpose of this study was to establish the extent to which privacy principles were followed by medical doctors in federal teaching hospitals in Nigeria when using health records for research. Survey research design was adopted for this study with two-stage random sampling technique to select 60% of the federal teaching hospitals; and 60% of the medical doctors in the selected hospitals. Attention was paid to securing patients unused data; health records was used mostly to generate data to support application for grant. There was a joint positive significant relationship between the predictor variables (privacy and health records) and the criterion variable in research practice.
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1. Background To The Study

Research is an integral component of any modern health service incorporating evidence-based practice. It is a core part of the healthcare delivery beneficial to the society. Evidence is needed to improve patient’s care, advance understanding of diseases, and evaluate interventions (Perrin, Mathers & Watts, 2008). Medical doctors in federal teaching hospitals conduct research to achieve these purposes. Research practice requires the collection of information about research participants from their health records (HRs) (Value Case Workgroup, 2013).

Nonetheless, health record is one of the core sources of data for research because it contains the most intimate detail about a person’s life. It document patients’ physical and mental health, and include information on social behaviors, personal relationships, and financial status (Gostin & Hodge, 2002). Using health records for research forms a regular part of medical practice, often leading to important discoveries (Value Case Workgroup, 2013). In fact, health records which housed Patient’s Personal Identifying Information (PII) offer significant potential for research because of the wealth of pre-collected data available in it (Perrin, Mathers & Watts, 2008; Safran et al., 2007). Literature revealed that health records played routine and ad hoc roles in research.

Data sources for ad hoc public analyses/studies depend upon the research question and may include primary data collected through surveys, gleaning of data from hospital discharge abstracts or even chart review (Willison, 2009).

Nevertheless, one of the ethical issues relating to use of health records for research is privacy issue. Privacy is the right of an individual to maintain control over certain personal health information contained in health records (Harman, Flight & Bond, 2006). It is the freedom an individual has to determine the time, extent, and general circumstances under which private information will be shared with or withheld from others (National Academy of Engineering, 2006). Privacy addresses the question of who has access to personal information and under what condition. Privacy is concerned with the collection, storage, and use of health records, and examines whether data can be collected in the first place, as well as the justifications, if any, under which data collected for one purpose can be used for another purpose. Some theorists depict privacy as a basic human right with intrinsic value (Moore, 2005; NRC 2007; Terry & Francis, 2007). Privacy addresses the question of who has access to personal information and under what conditions (AHIMA, 2006). An important issue in privacy analysis is whether the individual has authorized particular use of his personal information (Reviewed by Pritts, 2008; Westin, 1967).

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