Japanese attitudes towards truth disclosure in cancer

Scand J Soc Med. 1994 Mar;22(1):50-7. doi: 10.1177/140349489402200109.


Despite the increasing concerns of truth disclosure, most cancer patients are not told the truth about their disease in Japan. The author has tried to provide some insight into this issue by evaluating results from questionnaires given to hospital patients, clients in a mass cancer survey, and doctors of a college hospital. Results showed that 72% of patients and 83% of clients wanted to be told the truth, but only 33% and 34% of them thought that the truth should be told to cancer patients. These attitudes of patients and clients regarding truth disclosure were more positive than those of the general public and health care workers in previous studies. At present, 13% of doctors inform cancer patients of their disease. These trends indicate that the Japanese attitude toward avoiding truth disclosure stems primarily from paternalism but is also influenced by social characteristics including insufficient understanding of this issue. Open discussion involving all factions of society is necessary to attain a better understanding of this issue and to promote eventual truth disclosure.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Advisory Committees
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Attitude to Health / ethnology*
  • Beneficence
  • Data Collection
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Informed Consent
  • Japan
  • Male
  • Medical Staff, Hospital / psychology
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Paternalism
  • Personal Autonomy
  • Social Values
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Truth Disclosure*
  • Uncertainty