Dalrymple writes at Pajamas Media on a new study on cancer patients in the New England Journal of Medicine:
The authors found that those patients with the least accurate estimate of the chances of cure (that is to say who were the most falsely optimistic) rated their doctors the highest for their communication skills. In other words it is possible that doctors who give an optimistic message are those that patients think have told them the most, in the best and clearest way; but it is also possible that optimistic patients view their doctors in a benevolent light. What doctors tell patients, and what patients hear their doctors tell them, may be very different as every doctor is, or ought to be, aware.
What should the doctor do? Give the patient false hope or tell them the truth?