• cancer;
  • oncology;
  • disclosure;
  • family member;
  • patient


Objective: Cancer patients and their families differed in their attitude toward truth telling. The objective is to investigate different attitudes of Chinese patients or families toward whether and how to disclose diagnosis to patients with different stages of cancer and to examine the difference between the two groups.

Methods: A questionnaire was delivered to 1023 participants.

Results: Three hundred and eighty-two patients and 482 families completed the questionnaire. Cancer patients were more likely than families to believe that patient should be informed of the diagnosis (early-stage, 90.8 vs 69.9%, P<0.001; terminal stage, 60.5 vs 34.4%, P<0.001), and that doctor-in-charge was the appropriate person to disclose the diagnosis. Most participants thought that patient should be disclosed immediately after the diagnosis. Nearly half of participants reported that patient should be disclosed in a quiet and undisturbed room. When the hypothetic diagnosis changed from early-stage cancer to terminal illness, the number of participants, who wanted patient to know the diagnosis, decreased significantly.

Conclusion: Our findings indicated that Chinese cancer patients and their families differed in their attitude toward truth telling and the attitudes toward such a disclosure were influenced by disease stage. Physicians should realize this phenomenon and pay more attention to the skills of how to disclose the cancer diagnosis. Copyright © 2007 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.