Get access

Knowledge about patients’ rights among professionals in public health care in Finland


Silja Iltanen, Turkkurintie 28, 28400 Ulvila, Finland.


Scand J Caring Sci; 2012; 26; 436–448

Knowledge about patients’ rights among professionals in public health care in Finland

Background:  The legal rights of patients include civil rights for patients and the duties of healthcare professionals. Knowledge of legislation and the ability to put juridical norms into practice are among the main aspects of professionals.

Aim:  The aim of the study was to describe the level of healthcare professionals’ knowledge about patients’ legal rights and to describe background variables associated with the knowledge. The legal rights are based on the Finnish Act on the Status and Rights of Patients.

Method:  The data were collected from healthcare professionals (nurses and physicians) in public health care in Finland (recruited N = 290, responded n = 191) with a questionnaire designed for the study. The response rate was 66%. The data were analysed statistically.

Results:  Healthcare professionals were partially familiar with patients’ legal rights. The right to good health care, treatment and access to care and right to self-determination were the best-known areas. The respondents lacked knowledge on the right to information and the right to use the services of patient ombudsman. Based on self-evaluation, half of the respondents thought that they had weak knowledge of the legislation on patients’ rights. However, they perceived knowledge about patients’ rights as being important. There was no correlation between respondents’ self-evaluated knowledge and actual scoring on the knowledge test.

Conclusion:  These results implicate a need for further education aimed at healthcare professionals and development of professional training about patients’ legal rights.