Deception in Doctor-patient Communication

By Shari Hoppin.

Published by The International Journal of Health, Wellness and Society

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Debate about deception in doctor-patient communication often centers on what constitutes deception and whether it is ever justifiable for medical doctors to deceive patients. This paper examines research about doctors misleading patients as well as medical scholars’ arguments about deception and about whether some types of deception are acceptable. A five-level taxonomy of deceptive acts - lies, evasion, overstatement, concealment, and collusion - is applied. Medical scholars could benefit from conceptual clarification by taking into account the work of communication scholars. Medical scholars have justified benevolent deception, for example in the case of prescribing placebos, but recent research is calling into question whether deception is necessary for patients to benefit in such cases.

Keywords: Health Communication, Deception, Doctor, Patient

The International Journal of Health, Wellness and Society, Volume 1, Issue 1, pp.127-136. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 719.299KB).

Dr. Shari Hoppin

Assistant Professor, School of Journalism and Communication, Troy University, Troy, Alabama, USA

Shari Hoppin is an assistant professor in the Hall School of Journalism and Communication at Troy University.