Registered nurses' understanding of truth-telling as practiced in the nursing-home: An Australian perspective

Tuckett, Anthony G
June 2006
Health Sociology Review;Jun2006, Vol. 15 Issue 2, p179
Academic Journal
This article draws on an Australian research study using multiple qualitative methods to investigate 'truth-telling' in aged-care. Registered nurses understand truth-telling to be an instrumental practice in which information should be used as a means to avoid harm. The worth of truthfulness is therefore measured by its outcome(s). Truth-telling in nursing practice in the aged-care setting is primarily partial, edited, and stratal, and premised on 'easing' (harm avoidance) and 'omitting' (omission of detail). Moreover, truth-telling is premised on the view that residents' families will be harmed by full disclosure and do not want, or need, bad news. Truth-telling in practice, underpinned by benevolent protectionism, means that non-disclosure aims to reduce the burden of harm(s). The practice of truth-omission however, contrasts with findings from other studies which suggest full-disclosure is beneficial to both patients and their relatives.


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