Of a total 115 eligible patients, 108 were asked to participate in the study. All 108 patients completed the survey. The mean age of participants was 57.7 years, half were female, and 35.2% of the patients had been seen between 8 PM and 8 AM. The Mann-Whitney tests showed the difference in patient responses pertained to the walled and curtained treatment areas and not between the two curtained treatment areas. The differences in responses were significant regarding:
- Patients in curtained areas were either not sure or probably agreed that their conversations had been overheard, as compared to patients in the walled areas who were definite their conversations had not been overheard. (P<0.01).
- Patients in curtained areas were either not sure or probably agreed that they had overheard conversations of other patients with their healthcare providers, as compared to patients in the walled areas who were definite they had not overheard other patient conversations. (P<0.03).
- Patients in curtained areas reported a higher possibility of unauthorized people had visual access into their treatment area, as compared to patients in the walled area. (P<0.01).
- Patients in both curtained and walled areas were definite that unauthorized people did not have visual access to personal parts of their body (P<0.04).
- Patients in curtained areas rated overall sense of privacy lower than those in the walled areas (P<0.01).
Over 82% of patients responded that the ED staff had “complete” or “a lot of” respect for patient privacy and there was no significant difference in responses between the different treatment areas. Over 92% of patients reported their experience of privacy was higher than their expectation, irrespective of treatment area. However, four patients from the curtained treatment areas reported they had probably or definitely not divulged all of their medical history or had refused parts of physical examination because of concerns pertaining to inadequate privacy.
There were no significant differences in patient responses by sex or time of day. As compared to younger patients, older patients responded they could overhear conversations of other patients with healthcare providers, indicating a mild correlation (P<0.01, r=0.26).