Privacy and Dual Loyalties in Occupational Health Practice

Nursing Ethics 14 (5):675-690 (2007)

This survey set out to explore occupational health professionals' courses of action with respect to privacy in a situation of dual loyalty between employees and employers. A postal questionnaire was sent to randomly selected potential respondents. The overall response rate was 64%: 140 nurses and 94 physicians returned the questionnaire. Eight imaginary cases involving an ethical dilemma of privacy were presented to the respondents. Six different courses of action were constructed within the set alternatives proposed. The study indicated that privacy as an absolute value is not in the interest of either employees or employers. It also showed that, where dual loyalty is concerned, the most valid course of action in dealing with sensitive subjects such as drug and work community problems, sexual harassment and sick leave is to rely on tripartite co-operation. If they maintain their professional independence and impartiality, health professionals are well placed to succeed in this challenging task; if not, there are bound to be severe violations of privacy
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DOI 10.1177/0969733007077891
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