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Patients’ attitudes towards privacy in a Nepalese public hospital: a cross-sectional survey

Malcolm Moore1* and Ritesh Chaudhary2

Author Affiliations

1 Broken Hill Department of Rural Health, University of Sydney, PO Box 457, Broken Hill, NSW 2880, Australia

2 BP Koirala Institute of Health Sciences, Dharan, Nepal

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BMC Research Notes 2013, 6:31  doi:10.1186/1756-0500-6-31

Published: 29 January 2013



Many people in western countries assume that privacy and confidentiality are features of most medical consultations. However, in many developing countries consultations take place in a public setting where privacy is extremely limited. This is often said to be culturally acceptable but there is little research to determine if this is true. This research sought to determine the attitudes of patients in eastern Nepal towards privacy in consultations. A structured survey was administered to a sample of patients attending an outpatients department in eastern Nepal. It asked patients about their attitudes towards physical privacy and confidentiality of information.


The majority of patients (58%) stated that they were not comfortable having other patients in the same room. A similar percentage (53%) did not want other patients to know their medical information but more patients were happy for nurses and other health staff to know (81%). Females and younger patients were more concerned to have privacy.


The results challenge the conventional beliefs about patients’ privacy concerns in Nepal. They suggest that consideration should be given to re-organising existing outpatient facilities and planning future facilities to enable more privacy. The study has implications for other countries where similar conditions prevail. There is a need for more comprehensive research exploring this issue.

Medical consultations; Nepal; Privacy