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December 14, 1984


Author Affiliations

New Haven, Conn

JAMA. 1984;252(22):3173. doi:10.1001/jama.1984.03350220079040

In 1983, having just finished my third year in medical school, I received a Henry R. Luce Fellowship to study geriatric medicine at a large hospital in Tokyo. During my year here, I have come to realize that the Japanese practice of medicine simulates much of what has been familiar to me in America. However, as a young, perhaps naive, observer, I have been struck most by one cultural difference between these two medical societies. And as an American wrestling with a very foreign way of everyday life, it is the only point of difference I feel well equipped to discuss.

In Japan, an eye always seems cocked toward America, and medicine is no exception. Many physicians have asked me about what seems most on their minds as Japanese: the doctor-patient relationship. Specifically, I repeatedly have been asked whether American physicians really tell their patients the truth. In serious cases,