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Deception, honesty, and professionalism: A persistent challenge in modern medicine

Current Opinion in Psychology October 1, 2022

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PAIR Center Research Team


Honesty and deception have unique antecedents and consequences within the context of healthcare, relative to other social contexts. While modern professional standards emphasize honesty and avoidance of deception as paramount, empirical work from clinical practice settings reveal that deception remains widespread. This paper provides an overview of the current theoretical and scientific evidence regarding the use and potential consequences of deception of patients by clinicians. This includes the evolving professional standards and the roles of therapeutic dishonesty, collaborative deception, truth and trust in medicine, informed consent, and the outcomes of deception.