Recent Newspaper & Online Columns by Kate Scannell MD

When doctors doctor the truth

February 23, 2012

Tags: doctors and truth telling, truth-telling, Oscar Wilde, uncertainty in medicine, Scannell

By Dr. Kate Scannell, Syndicated columnist; First published in print 02/18/2012

Last week, the journal Health Affairs published a study exploring physicians' attitudes about truth-telling that generated abundant media attention. Many public commentators deemed the results "shocking" -- although few seem to have read the fine print. You almost needed a tranquilizer to withstand headlines that "asked" whether YOUR DOCTOR IS LYING TO YOU!

In comparison, the study's actual title reads less sensationally: "Survey shows that at least some physicians are not always open or honest with patients." Although not much of an attention grabber, it concisely summarizes the researchers' main conclusion based upon a survey of 1,891 practicing physicians in the United States.

The actual media reports about the content of the new survey also tended to be off-key and misleading. (more…)

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