Telling the truth about cancer: views of elderly patients and their relatives

Ir Med J. 2000 Jun;93(4):104-5.


The aim of this study was to compare the attitudes of elderly patients and their relatives towards telling the truth about cancer. 120 patients were asked if they would wish to be told about bad news, such as cancer, which might emerge during the admission. Matched relatives were asked if such information should be disclosed to the patient. Of the 120 patients, 99 (83%) wanted to be told the truth; 66 relatives (55%) relatives wanted their next of kin informed. There was agreement in 73 (61%) pairs. The kappa statistic was 0.16 (95% confidence interval -0.03 to 0.35), which indicates poor agreement. We conclude that most elderly people wish to be informed of a diagnosis of cancer. Patient preferences cannot be predicted by talking to relatives.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Confidence Intervals
  • Data Collection
  • Family*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Ireland
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Patient Participation
  • Physician-Patient Relations
  • Risk Factors
  • Truth Disclosure*