Journal of Cancer Education

, Volume 31, Issue 4, pp 811–812 | Cite as

“Everybody Knows Everybody Else’s Business”—Privacy in Rural Communities

  • Janni Leung
  • Annetta Smith
  • Iain Atherton
  • Deirdre McLaughlin


Patients have a right to privacy in a health care setting. This involves conversational discretion, security of medical records and physical privacy of remaining unnoticed or unidentified when using health care services other than by those who need to know or whom the patient wishes to know. However, the privacy of cancer patients who live in rural areas is more difficult to protect due to the characteristics of rural communities. The purpose of this article is to reflect on concerns relating to the lack of privacy experienced by cancer patients and health care professionals in the rural health care setting. In addition, this article suggests future research directions to provide much needed evidence for educating health care providers and guiding health care policies that can lead to better protection of privacy among cancer patients living in rural communities.


Privacy Rural health services Rural nursing Rural population Neoplasms Quality of health care 



We thank the breast cancer specialists and patients from small communities (who wish to remain anonymous for the protection of their privacy) for kindly giving their time and sharing their insights and experiences on the privacy issues.


The research was undertaken as a holder of a University of Queensland Graduate School International Travel Award. We acknowledge The University of Queensland Graduate School for providing funding to enable this research. The funder had no role in the study design, collection, analysis and interpretation of data.

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.


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Copyright information

© American Association for Cancer Education 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Policy and Epidemiology GroupQueensland Centre for Mental Health ResearchWacolAustralia
  2. 2.School of Public HealthThe University of QueenslandHerstonAustralia
  3. 3.School of Nursing, Midwifery and HealthUniversity of StirlingHighland and Western IslesUnited Kingdom
  4. 4.School of Nursing, Midwifery and Social CareEdinburgh Napier UniversityEdinburghUnited Kingdom

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