Should a Diagnosis of Alzheimer's Disease be Disclosed?
There is evidence that some health practitioners may be reluctant to disclose a diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease (AD) to patients (Clafferty, Brown, & McCabe, 1998; Drickamer & Lachs, 1992; Fortinsky, Leighton, & Wasson, 1995; Kirby & Maguire, 1998; Maguire et al., 1996; Rice & Warner, 1994; Rice, Warner, Tye & Bayer, 1997). However, this reluctance towards disclosure may not be in accordance with patient expectation (Erde, Evan, Nadal, & Scholl, 1988; Holroyd, Snustad, & Chalifoux, 1996; Kirby & Maguire, 1998; Maguire et al., 1996; Vassilas & Donaldson, 1998). This study examined the attitudes of 100 undergraduate psychology students towards disclosure practices in relation to AD, before and after exposure to AD education. After AD education, 93% of participants indicated a desire to be informed of a diagnosis of AD, and 95% of participants were in favour of telling a close relative a diagnosis of AD. Results are discussed in terms of the relationship between age and attitudes towards AD diagnosis. It is concluded that the high rate of support for disclosure of AD diagnoses to patients among younger adults may reflect a change in the information preferences of patients brought about by a shift away from a patriarchal medical model, toward a more autonomous model of health.
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