Survey shows that at least some physicians are not always open or honest with patients

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Department of Quantitative Health Sciences

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Attitude of Health Personnel; *Deception; Female; Health Care Surveys; Humans; Male; *Physician-Patient Relations; United States


Bioethics and Medical Ethics | Health Services Research


The Charter on Medical Professionalism, endorsed by more than 100 professional groups worldwide and the US Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education, requires openness and honesty in physicians' communication with patients. We present data from a 2009 survey of 1,891 practicing physicians nationwide assessing how widely physicians endorse and follow these principles in communicating with patients. The vast majority of physicians completely agreed that physicians should fully inform patients about the risks and benefits of interventions and should never disclose confidential information to unauthorized persons. Overall, approximately one-third of physicians did not completely agree with disclosing serious medical errors to patients, almost one-fifth did not completely agree that physicians should never tell a patient something untrue, and nearly two-fifths did not completely agree that they should disclose their financial relationships with drug and device companies to patients. Just over one-tenth said they had told patients something untrue in the previous year. Our findings raise concerns that some patients might not receive complete and accurate information from their physicians, and doubts about whether patient-centered care is broadly possible without more widespread physician endorsement of the core communication principles of openness and honesty with patients.

DOI of Published Version



Health Aff (Millwood). 2012 Feb;31(2):383-91. Link to article on publisher's site

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Health affairs (Project Hope)

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Link to Article in PubMed