Telling Family Members About Incurable Disease is Difficult: Study | Be Korea-savvy

Telling Family Members About Incurable Disease is Difficult: Study


Patients wait to see doctors at Pusan National University Hospital in South Korea's southeastern port city of Busan on Aug. 7, 2020. (Yonhap)

Patients wait to see doctors at Pusan National University Hospital in South Korea’s southeastern port city of Busan on Aug. 7, 2020. (Yonhap)

SEOUL, Dec. 10 (Korea Bizwire)People always hesitate with the question of whether to tell their families and loved ones about their medical results, especially if it has to do with cancer, Parkinson’s disease, or Alzheimer’s disease.

The results of a recent survey showed that a majority of people, including doctors, want to tell their family and friends about the fact that they are suffering from an incurable disease.

When it came to telling the unfortunate truth to a family member, however, people seemed to be more hesitant.

A research team from Seoul National University Hospital conducted a survey of 928 doctors and 1,005 citizens nationwide and released the results on Wednesday.

The team asked the participants to consider two assumptions – that the participant was the patient, or that the patient was a family member.

They asked if respondents felt obligated to tell the patient that he/she was suffering from an incurable disease such as organ failure, Lou Gehrig’s disease, or Alzheimer’s disease.

The results showed that 9 in 10 doctors and citizens felt obligated to tell the patient about the results of the diagnosis.

Citizens, however, were slightly more hesitant than doctors over the issue.

Their willingness to notify the patient dropped by approximately 10 percent when the patient was a family member.

Doctors were willing to talk about the incurable disease under both assumptions when they themselves were the patient (99 percent), and when the patient was a family member (98.7 percent).

Citizens, in contrast, were slightly more hesitant when they were the patient (92 percent) and when the patient was a family member (88.5 percent).

In the case of Alzheimer’s disease, 86.9 percent of the citizens were willing to notify others if they were the patient. If the patient was a family member, however, the rate fell to 78.5 percent.

Lina Jang (linajang@koreabizwire.com)

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