Reality and fugues in physicians facing death: confrontation, coping, and adaptation at the bedside

Crit Rev Oncol Hematol. 2001 Nov;40(2):97-103. doi: 10.1016/s1040-8428(01)00135-4.


This paper addresses the psychological effects and fears of physicians in their private and professional lives. It specifically looks at their experiences, perceptions, behavior, and vulnerability, especially when confronted with death and dying. The concepts of empathy, fears of oncologists, the mechanisms used for adaptation and coping, recommendations and interventions are presented. The success of a physician can be measured by the empathic yet objective relationship he/she establishes with the patient, while simultaneously building clear emotional and professional boundaries.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Attitude to Death*
  • Empathy
  • Fear
  • Humans
  • Medical Oncology*
  • Neoplasms / psychology
  • Occupational Diseases / psychology
  • Physician-Patient Relations
  • Physicians / psychology*
  • Stress, Psychological / etiology