‘Knowing Me, Knowing You’: Patients’ Perspectives on Doctors Disclosing Personal Illness
There are currently no formal clinical guidelines informing doctors as to whether it is appropriate to disclose their own illness information to patients. The topic of doctor self-illness disclosure (DSID) remains under-researched within current medical literature. Surrounding research concerning doctor self-disclosure in general has presented risks as well as benefits of this behaviour in the clinical setting. This study aimed to address the significant lack of research in this area by investigating patients’ perspectives on DSID within the context of primary care. By addressing this aim, this study has the potential to inform medical professionals and medical students as to what is best practice concerning DSID.This study explored patients’ perspectives on doctors self-disclosing about their own illness or illness experience to patients. Data was collected through the use of one-on-one semi-structured interviews and subsequently analysed using thematic analysis methods.The major themes identified from the results centred around emotional reassurance, the doctor-patient relationship, and the doctor’s professional role and responsibilities. The results of this study demonstrated that DSID can have profound effects on patients and the doctor-patient relationship overall. Twelve clinical recommendations for doctors were constructed from the analysis of the results. The purpose of these recommendations is to advise doctors on how to approach DSID in primary care in order to minimise potential harms and emphasise potential benefits of DSID.Based on these findings, it is recommended for doctors to consider the appropriateness of DSID on a case-by-case basis and acknowledge that it has the potential for both negative and positive effects. This study has also emphasised that there is a legitimate need for DSID to be addressed within medical education.
Advisor: Hall, Katherine; Williamson, Martyn
Degree Name: Bachelor of Medical Science with Honours
Degree Discipline: Department of General Practice and Rural Health
Publisher: University of Otago
Keywords: self-disclosure; doctors as patients; doctor-patient relationship; disclosure; illness disclosure; disclosure of illness
Research Type: Thesis