Balancing truth-telling in the preservation of hope: A relational ethics approach

Nursing Ethics 19 (1):21-29 (2012)
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Abstract

Truth-telling in healthcare practice can be regarded as a universal communicative virtue; however, there are different views on what consequence it has for giving or diminishing hope. The aim of this article is to explore the relationship between the concepts of truth-telling and hope from a relational ethics approach in the context of healthcare practice. Healthcare staff protect themselves and others to preserve hope in the care of seriously sick patients and in end-of-life care. This is done by balancing truth-telling guided by different conditions such as the cultural norms of patients, family and staff. Our main conclusion is that the balancing of truth-telling needs to be decided in a mutual understanding in the caring relationship, but hope must always be inspired. Instead of focusing on autonomy as the only guiding principle, we would like to propose that relational ethics can serve as a meaningful perspective in balancing truth-telling

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