Table 8

The four most often indicated reasons* by medical and law students (%) reported to have principally influenced the attitudes toward information about the diagnosis or prognosis of cancer if the patient asks not to be told the truth

(3) Diagnosis(4) Prognosis
Reasons†:Reasons†:
Response:‡Most often2nd most3rd most4th mostResponse:‡Most often2nd most3rd most4th most
*A = respect for autonomy, BI = informing is best, BN = not informing is best, T = always tell the truth, RL = required by the law, DH = don’t harm.
†If >100% in the same line this is due to about 5–10% of students having indicated more than one reason as most important.
‡1 certainly respect the patient’s wish (that is, do not inform), 2 probably respect the patient’s wish (that is, do not inform), 3 as likely to respect as not to respect the patient’s wish, 4 probably do not respect the patient’s wish (that is, inform), 5 certainly do not respect the patient’s wish (that is, inform).
Group M1 : 64 medical students at the end of their 5th year in 1996.
Group M2 : 63 medical students at the beginning of their 5th year in 1996.
Group L1 : 75 fifth to fourth year law students from an “international law” lecture in 1996.
Group L2 : 93 mostly first year law students from a “law and medicine” lecture in 1996.
Law students
    1 (n=22)A (86.4)RL (9.1)DH (4.5)BI (4.5)1 (n=40)A (72.5)BN (10.0)DH (10.0)RL (5.0)
    2 (n=69)A (81.2)BN (15.9)DH (7.2)BI (5.8)2 (n=65)A (83.1)BN (12.3)DH (10.8)BI (7.7)
    3 (n=17)A (58.8)BI (29.4)DH (11.8)BN (5.9)3 (n=19)A (36.8)BI (31.6)DH (10.5)BN (5.3)
    4 (n=36)BI (61.1)T (30.6)A (19.4)DH (11.1)4 (n=28)BI (57.1)T (28.6)A (21.4)RL (10.7)
    5 (n=23)BI (60.9)T (26.1)RL (8.7)DH (8.7)5 (n=15)BI (46.7)T (46.7)A (20.0)DH (13.3)
Medical sudents
    1 (n=30)A (93.3)DH (6.7)RL (6.7)1 (n=53)A (86.8)DH (9.4)BN (3.8)BI (1.9)
    2 (n=55)A (96.4)DH (9.1)BI (5.5)RL (1.8)2 (n=49)A (91.8)BN (8.2)DH (2.0)BI (2.0)
    3 (n=27)A (63.0)BI (33.0)RL (3.7)T (3.7)3 (n=16)A (62.5)BI (50.0)
    4 (n=10)BI (50.0)A (30.0)T (20.0)4 (n=5)BI (100.0)
    5 (n=5)BI (60.0)A (20.0)5 (n=4)A (75.0)BI (25.0)