Black KwaZulu-Natal students' attitudes towards the use of medical records for research : a qualitative study.
Chareka, Samantha Dozziline.
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Medical records are often used in research to provide evidence to help medical researchers improve their understanding of disease, develop potential treatments and improve patient care. However, patient medical information is confidential and sensitive, and this personal data must be safeguarded. There is considerable uncertainty about the process that should be taken when information from patient records may be accessed for research. Researchers and health practitioners are guided by different laws and ethical guidelines when accessing personal health information for research. Understanding the views of the public is essential if generally acceptable policies are to be developed that balance research access to general practice patient records with due protection of patients’ privacy. This study aimed to determine black students’ attitudes towards the use of medical records for research purposes. To elicit these attitudes, one on one interviews and focus group discussions were conducted. The discussions were then transcribed, coded and analysed using thematic analysis. Findings from the study showed that people were generally ambivalent about the use of their medical records as there are many factors which contribute to the decision making process such as whether anonymity, confidentiality and privacy would be upheld. The findings indicate that students had reservations about their records being used for research. However, it would be a mistake to conclude that students do not want their records to be used because they are aware of the benefits of such research.
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