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Prof Psychol Res Pr. 1990 Feb;21(1):72-5.

Researching the effects of confidentiality law on patients' self-disclosures.

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Mental Health Children's Specialized Services, Almeda County, California.


We hypothesized that conflicting research findings on the effects that confidentiality laws have on patients' self-disclosure reflect the fact that privacy is important only to some patients in some circumstances. Instead of asking whether privacy is always important, we posed the following question: What factors determine whether privacy is important? With 42 outpatients we found that self-disclosures about sensitive issues (e.g., child abuse, drug abuse) during intake were determined partly by how legally informed patients were and partly by how relevant and consequential the law was to their cases.

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