Tuesday, 6 December 2005

Be good and tell the truth...

Reading this article: "Privacy issues raised over Plan B: women asked for names, addresses, sexual history" by Laura Eggertson and Barbara Sibbald from CMAJ. (You might not be able to access this article. I'm not sure. Try it and see!)

This article is all about how due to CPhA guidelines, many Canadian pharmacists are asking for and recording data from women and girls requesting the emergency contraceptive levonorgestrel (Plan B) and how this is an obvious privacy issue and a potential barrier to its use. This is certainly an important issue, no one should HAVE to provide their name, sexual history, etc. if it's not required for the sake of their health. It turns out that, since it's only a suggestion by the CPhA and they are not a regulating body, it's not really required but pharmacists may be asking these questions in ways that make it seem like if they don't answer they won't get Plan B.

However, I'm always dismayed at the quick response to any information gathering as automatically an invasion of privacy. Perhaps the information specifically being asked for is not all necessary, but some information should be gathered:
Pharmacists collect the information to determine if ECPs are appropriate, Cooper says. "In a fairly high percentage of cases, the woman comes in thinking she needs emergency contraception and in a consultation with pharmacists [realizes] she doesn't need it. Or it's a timing issue," Cooper says.
In order to give good service, sometimes you need to get some background information. As a librarian, I sometimes find myself needing to ask what may seem as an intrusive question (e.g. "Why do you want this information?") in order to understand more clearly what the customer really wants. Many people are horrible at communicating their own messages: they're shy, don't know the jargon, want to impress, don't really know what they want, etc.

The thing to remember is to communicate as much as you can to the customer as well. You can't make anybody make a good decision, but you shouldn't trick them into making the decision YOU think is the best one. The only thing you can do is try to make sure they have as much information as possible so that they at least have the materials to base their decision on. It'll all turn out for the best if you just communicate well and tell the truth. You can't do more than that.

No comments: