UBC Faculty Research and Publications

White lie during patient care: a qualitative study of nurses’ perspectives Nasrabadi, A. N; Joolaee, S.; Navab, E.; Esmaeili, M.; Shali, M.


Background: Keeping the patients well and fully informed about diagnosis, prognosis, and treatments is one of the patient’s rights in any healthcare system. Although all healthcare providers have the same viewpoint about rendering the truth in treatment process, sometimes the truth is not told to the patients; that is why the healthcare staff tell “white lie” instead. This study aimed to explore the nurses’ experience of white lies during patient care. Methods: This qualitative study was conducted from June to December 2018. Eighteen hospital nurses were recruited with maximum variation from ten state-run educational hospitals affiliated to Tehran University of Medical Sciences. Purposeful sampling was used and data were collected by semi-structured interviews that were continued until data saturation. Data were classified and analyzed by content analysis approach. Results: The data analysis in this study resulted in four main categories and 11 subcategories. The main categories included hope crisis, bad news, cultural diversity, and nurses’ limited professional competences. Conclusion: Results of the present study showed that, white lie told by nurses during patient care may be due to a wide range of patient, nurse and/or organizational related factors. Communication was the main factor that influenced information rendering. Nurses’ communication with patients should be based on mutual respect, trust and adequate cultural knowledge, and also nurses should provide precise information to patients, so that they can make accurate decisions regarding their health care.

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Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)