Supportive Care in Cancer

, Volume 12, Issue 3, pp 147–154 | Cite as

Cancer information disclosure in different cultural contexts

  • Kyriaki MystakidouEmail author
  • Efi Parpa
  • Eleni Tsilika
  • Emmanuela Katsouda
  • Lambros Vlahos
Special Article


The relationship between truth telling and culture has been the subject of increasing attention in the literature. The issue of whether, how and how much to tell cancer patients concerning diagnosis is still approached differently depending on country and culture. The majority of physicians tell the truth more often today than in the past, in both developed and developing countries, but most of them prefer to disclose the truth to the next of kin. Nurses in Anglo-Saxon countries are considered to be the most suitable health-care professionals for the patients to share their thoughts and feelings with. Nevertheless, in most other cultures the final decision on information disclosure lies with the treating physician. Regardless of cultural origin, the diagnosis of cancer affects both family structure and family dynamics. In most cases patients’ families, in an effort to protect them from despair and a feeling of hopelessness, exclude the patient from the process of information exchange. The health-care team–patient relationship is a triangle consisting of the health-care professional, the patient and the family. Each part supports the other two and is affected by the cultural background of each of the others as well as the changes that occur within the triangle.


Information disclosure Culture Cancer patients Health-care professionals Family 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kyriaki Mystakidou
    • 1
    Email author
  • Efi Parpa
    • 1
  • Eleni Tsilika
    • 1
  • Emmanuela Katsouda
    • 1
  • Lambros Vlahos
    • 2
  1. 1.Pain Relief and Palliative Care Unit, Areteion Hospital, Department of RadiologyUniversity of Athens School of Medicine, Jenny Karezi FoundationAthensGreece
  2. 2.Department of Radiology, Areteion HospitalUniversity of Athens School of MedicineAthensGreece

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