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Confidentiality

Clinicians have a duty to maintain confidentiality of information and to disclose information with only the interviewee’s informed consent. The clarification of confidentiality and its limits are of paramount importance for a well-conducted interview. The interviewee should be clearly informed of any limits on the confidentiality of the evaluation and of any legal obligations for disclosure of the information gathered by means of the interview and medical/psychological examination at the beginning of the interview.

Individuals may fear that information revealed in the context of an evaluation cannot be safely kept from being accessed by persecuting governments. Fear and mistrust may be particularly strong in cases where physicians or other health workers were participants in the torture. In many circumstances, the evaluator will be a member of the majority culture and ethnicity, whereas the patient, in the situation and location of the interview, is likely to belong to a minority group or culture. This dynamic of inequality may reinforce the perceived and real imbalance of power and may increase the potential sense of fear, mistrust and forced submission in the interviewee.