Is there an elephant in the room? Boundary violations in the doctor-patient relationship in India

Sunita Simon Kurpad, Tanya Machado, R B Galgali

DOI: 10.20529/IJME.2010.029


An anonymous postal survey on the awareness of the occurrence of nonsexual and sexual boundary violations (NSBV and SBV) in the doctor-patient relationship in India was conducted with psychiatrists and psychologists working in the state of Karnataka in India (n=51). Though this was not designed to be a prevalence study on violations, the results suggest that both NSBV and SBV do occur and, more importantly, respondents felt that this is an area which needs urgent attention in India. There was disagreement on whether some behaviours in certain situations could be construed as NSBV in the Indian culture. Though several respondents agreed that there was a need to develop guidelines on this issue in India, there was a perception that the problem was not in the availability of guidelines but in their implementation. The ethical implications of the study are discussed.

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