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Revista de Neuro-Psiquiatría

Print version ISSN 0034-8597


ESPINOZA-SUAREZ, Nataly R; ZAPATA DEL MAR, Carla Milagros  and  MEJIA PEREZ, Lina Andrea. Conspiracy of silence: a barrier in the physician, patient and family communication. Rev Neuropsiquiatr [online]. 2017, vol.80, n.2, pp.125-136. ISSN 0034-8597.

The conspiracy of silence is a barrier to the truth that can be defined as both the implicit and explicit agreement arrived at by the patient’s family, his/her surroundings and the health professionals involved, changing the information provided to patients and, thus, hide the diagnosis, severity and prognosis of the disease. The role of the terminal patient´s family is essential for the health staff’s decisions and actions as they are a decisive factor in the provision of physical, material, psychosocial and spiritual support. The communication between family and health professionals must be adequate from the beginning even before arriving at a diagnosis, as it will allow to comply with the objectives of a multidisciplinary and integrated management. It is important to find out what the patient and his/her family know about the diagnosis, disease and prognosis and the staff must be receptive to all their doubts, beliefs, expectations, and even myths and fabulations about the terminal disease. It is vital for physicians to be properly trained on information management, favoring the adequate family and patient´s adaptation to the disease process and the subsequent grief process in order to avoid the development of the conspiracy of silence and its negative consequences on all involved.

Keywords : Communication; doctor-patient relationship; truth disclosure; palliative care; pact of silence; end of life care.

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