# 021 Hope and Truth Telling, 2nd ed


Medical College of Wisconsin (EPERC)


This Fast Fact discusses the difficult balance between maintaining hope and truth telling, especially as it applies to giving bad news. One of the most difficult things physicians do is give bad news. Medical students and residents are often afraid that by telling someone the truth about his/her diagnosis, they will be responsible for taking away hope. And yet, are physicians really that powerful? Isn’t it possible that our fear of causing the loss of hope is just another way we can avoid the harsh reality of impending death? This conflict, between truth-telling and fear of destroying hope, is commonly noted by patients and families who feel that “the doctor is not really telling me everything,” a feeling that is highly corrosive to the doctor-patient relationship.


July 2005; 21.

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Eric Warm MD and David E Weissman MD

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