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Confidentiality with Adolescents

  • Note: this is a past research project that is now complete.


    This program of research focuses on the ethical dilemma of confidentiality with young people in the medical setting. Fears about privacy form a major barrier for young people seeking health-care. When health professionals offer explicit assurances of confidentiality, adolescents are more likely to disclose sensitive information and return for follow-up care. Current guidelines concerning the health care of adolescents are explicit about the need for confidentiality between young people and clinicians and thus the importance of seeing young people alone for at least part of each consultation.

    Much less is known about the views of health care practitioners and parents regarding confidentiality with young people. When is it necessary to breach confidentiality and share private information with parents? What types of information do parents expect to be informed about? Are parental opinions in line with current guidance for health professionals? This program of research focuses on exploring and documenting the opinions of health professionals who work with young people, as well as the views of parents, about confidentiality in the medical setting. A mixed methodology is utilised, incorporating both quantitative and qualitative methods.


    Read the article Teens Deserve Privacy published in Herald Sun Tuesday Feb 21 2012 about research conducted by Dr Rony Duncan and her team at the Centre for Adolescent Health at the Murdoch Children's Research Institute.

    Also read the article "Sex, drugs and illness: why teens need medical confidentiality" in "The Conversation" on 5th March 2013.

    Sasse, R. A., Aroni, R. A., Sawyer, S. M., & Duncan, R. E. (2013). Confidential consultations with adolescents: an exploration of Australian parents' perspectives. The Journal of adolescent health : official publication of the Society for Adolescent Medicine52(6), 786–791. 


    Invergowrie Foundation 2012-2013
    NHMRC (Public Health Australia Fellowship) 2007-2010


    Susan Sawyer