Patients, surrogates, and physicians may view selected forms or circumstances of deception as acceptable in order to avoid real or perceived suffering associated with discussion of negative outcomes. For example, physicians may withhold health-related information in order to maintain patients' and surrogates' hope. The overall objective of this project is to collect pilot data comparing the degree to which the deception of patients by physicians is viewed as appropriate by three groups: (1) patients, (2) actual or potential surrogate decision makers, and (3) physicians who care for seriously ill patients. Conducted at four University of Pennsylvania Health System outpatient clinics, the study will include patients with serious illnesses, their surrogate decision-makers, and the physicians who care for them, providing novel, empirical data on key stakeholders’ attitudes towards and preferences for deception during physician-patient communication and directly inform future studies that will influence clinical practice and policies for physicians communicating with patients.
The Greenwall Foundation, Roybal Center on Behavioral Economics and Health, National Institute on Aging