To identify emergency department (ED) predictors of patients' perception of privacy and whether patients' perception of privacy was significantly associated with patient satisfaction, in an urban, university-based hospital ED.
Patients' perceptions of privacy and satisfaction at one urban, university-based hospital ED were assessed. Structured questionnaires were performed, and measures for patients' perception of privacy and satisfaction as well as demographic data were included for data collection for each patient. Ordinal logistic regression model building was conducted for patients' perception of privacy.
364 patients were approached and 313 (86%) on-site questionnaires were completed. 75% of patients agreed and strongly agreed that privacy was very important for their emergency care. Factors that were highly correlated with patients' perception of privacy included personal information overheard by others (OR 0.6273), overhearing others' personal information (OR 0.5521), unintentionally heard inappropriate conversations from healthcare providers (OR 0.5992), being seen by irrelevant persons (OR 0.6337), space provided for privacy when being physically examined (OR 1.6091) and providers' respect for patients' privacy (OR 4.3455). Patient characteristics that significantly predicted lower ratings of perception of privacy included older age, the treatment area in a hallway and longer length of stay. Patient satisfaction was strongly predicted by the perception of privacy (OR 8.4545).
These data identify specific factors that are determinants of patients' perception of privacy. It was found that patients' perception of privacy strongly predicts satisfaction. ED improvement efforts should focus on improving ED environmental design and continuing education of healthcare providers to protect patient privacy during their stay in the ED.