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Effect of patient centredness and positive approach

BMJ 2002; 324 doi: (Published 02 March 2002) Cite this as: BMJ 2002;324:543

Airing uncertainty can be positive

  1. David Shepherd (, general practice principal
  1. Saffron Group Practice, Leicester LE2 6UL
  2. Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society, La Trobe University, Melbourne, Victoria 3000, Australia

    EDITOR—Little et al say that doctors should be aware that airing their uncertainties might reduce satisfaction and empowerment.1 This conclusion is not really supported by their research because the positive approach statements dealt with the patient's problem and not the specific diagnosis. It is possible for the doctor to acknowledge uncertainty about a diagnosis or prognosis while giving the patient a clear positive message about what they can expect to happen, or what the doctor thinks they could do about the problem and what to do if things do not go according to expectation.

    This safety net is likely to be perceived as positive by the patient, who may feel even more empowered as the doctor has clearly planned for the …

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