One Man's Burden:
BMJ (British Medical Journal). 1986 Nov 22; 293(6558): 1379.
A former general practitioner discusses the dilemma of whether or not physicians always should tell patients the truth about their illnesses, particularly when the prognosis is not good. O'Donnell cautions against adopting an absolute rule of always disclosing everything, and acknowledges the difficulties of coping with patient ambivalence on the issue. He cites a 1981 study by Dr. John Spencer Jones wherein patients being treated for inoperable cancer were given the option of being told their diagnosis only if they asked. Half asked; half did not. O'Donnell concludes that, while some patients prefer uncertainty, others welcome the truth and the chance to reassess their lives before dying. (KIE abstract)
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