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Nurses’ Attitudes Toward Truthful Communication With Patients With Cancer: A Greek Study

Georgaki, Stavroula RN; Kalaidopoulou, Ourania MD; Liarmakopoulos, Ioannis BSc, RN; Mystakidou, Kyriaki PhD, MD


The purpose of this study was to examine Greek nurses’ attitudes toward truth-telling practices when working with cancer patients and their psychological status regarding the difficulties they face in their day-to-day communication with these patients. A self-administered questionnaire composed of 19 questions, including both multi-item scales and single-item measures, was designed for the study. For this study, 200 nurses were asked to participate, of whom 148 (74%) completed and returned the questionnaire. The questionnaire is self-administered, formulated after a thorough review of the relevant literature. The pretesting was carried out using the alpha model of reliability and the Cochran Chi Square test (Q-test), which was 545.46 (P < .0001) and showed a Cronbach alpha coefficient of 0.7148. A large percentage of the respondents (75.7%) believe that only some patients with cancer should be told the truth of their diagnosis and prognosis, although a larger percentage (89.1%) believe that the truth should be told to the relatives. Most of the respondents (66.2%) reported that is difficult to engage in open communication with the patients, because their academic education did not sufficiently train them in communication skills. Although 83.78% of the nurse respondents do not reveal that the disease is incurable, 86 (58.1%) believe that only the patient’s physician should reveal the truth. These results indicate that although many Greek nurses believe that the patients should be informed and know their condition, lack of training in communication skills is a major obstacle to achieving this. Finally, this self-assessment questionnaire may provide acceptable and valid assessment of Greek nurses’ perceptions and attitudes on truth telling.

From the School of Medicine, University of Athens, Areteion Hospital, Greece.

Corresponding author: Mystakidou Kyriaki, PhD, MD, Pain Relief and Palliative Care Unit, Department of Radiology, University of Athens, Areteion Hospital, 76 Ave Vas. Sofias, GR-11528 Athens, Hellas.

© 2002 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.