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Attitudes, beliefs and perceptions regarding truth disclosure of cancer-related information in the Middle East: A review

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  22 November 2012

Rami Bou Khalil*
Psychiatric hospital of the Cross, Jalledib - Lebanon; Saint Joseph University, Beirut - Lebanon
Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Rami Bou Khalil, Psychiatric Hospital of the Cross-Jalledib-Lebanon, PO Box: 60096, Saint Joseph University, Beirut-Lebanon. E-mail:


The aim of this review is to evaluate the current status concerning attitudes, beliefs and/or practices of patients, family members, health professionals and/or caregivers regarding truth disclosure about a cancer diagnosis in the Greater Middle East countries. A search was done via MedLine for all publications related to this review objective. 55 publications were included emanating from Egypt, Iran, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Palestine Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and United Arab Emirates. In the Greater Middle East region, a diagnosis of cancer is still mixed with social stigma and misperceptions related to incurability. Physicians conserve a truth disclosure policy in which from one side they respect some of the historical and cultural misperceptions about cancer and accordingly, tell the truth about cancer to one of the family members and from another side acknowledge the patients' right to know the truth and tend to disclose it for him(or her) when possible. Family members and caregivers' attitudes, perceptions and beliefs about telling the truth to the patient seem to be in favor of concealment. Discrepant results concerning physicians' and patients' evaluation of the quality of truth disclosure exist in the literature. Education programs in breaking bad news are lacking in many countries. Finally, the most important and common problem affecting truth disclosure to a patient suffering from cancer is the lack of codes and legislations concerning the patients' rights in an informed consent. Studies, legislations and training programs are needed in this domain in Middle Eastern societies.

Review Article
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2012

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