Trust me, i'm a doctor: Examining changes in how privacy concerns affect patient withholding behavior

Daniel M. Walker, Tyler Johnson, Eric W. Ford, Timothy R. Huerta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Background: As electronic health records (EHRs) become ubiquitous in the health care industry, privacy breaches are increasing and being made public. These breaches may make consumers wary of the technology, undermining its potential to improve care coordination and research. Objective: Given the developing concerns around privacy of personal health information stored in digital format, it is important for providers to understand how views on privacy and security may be associated with patient disclosure of health information. This study aimed to understand how privacy concerns may be shifting patient behavior. Methods: Using a pooled cross-section of data from the 2011 and 2014 cycles of the Health Information and National Trends Survey (HINTS), we tested whether privacy and security concerns, as well as quality perceptions, are associated with the likelihood of withholding personal health information from a provider. A fully interacted multivariate model was used to compare associations between the 2 years, and interaction terms were used to evaluate trends in the factors that are associated with withholding behavior. Results: No difference was found regarding the effect of privacy and security concerns on withholding behavior between 2011 and 2014. Similarly, whereas perceived high quality of care was found to reduce the likelihood of withholding information from a provider in both 2011 (odds ratio [OR] 0.73, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.56-0.94) and 2014 (OR 0.61, 95% CI 0.48-0.76), no difference was observed between years. Conclusions: These findings suggest that consumers' beliefs about EHR privacy and security, the relationship between technology use and quality, and intentions to share information with their health care provider have not changed. These findings are counter to the ongoing discussions about the implications of security failures in other domains. Our results suggest that providers could ameliorate privacy and security by focusing on the care quality benefits EHRs provide.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere2
JournalJournal of Medical Internet Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017


  • Disclosure
  • Electronic health records
  • Electronic medical records
  • Personal health information
  • Privacy
  • Trust

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Informatics


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