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November 12, 1982

What patients want: the full facts, please

JAMA. 1982;248(18):2210-2211. doi:10.1001/jama.1982.03330180004002

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Patients are more likely to refuse treatment if they receive too little information or there are "other lapses in communication" between them and medical personnel, says the President's Commission on Ethics in Medicine and Research.

The 11-member commission, which includes seven physicians, drew this conclusion from national surveys of physicians and the public conducted for it by Louis Harris and Associates and from studies of physician-patient decision-making conducted at the University of Pittsburgh. Members of the commission say the conclusion is "contrary to the fears of many that too much information frightens patients."

The commission, which was created by Congress, has been meeting since January 1980 and will be dissolved at the end of this year. In reporting the results of its latest studies to Congress and the President, it concluded that it isn't "fruitful to rely primarily on legal reforms to overcome the failure of a real process of