Thursday, March 3, 2011

The Unrealistic Optimism of Cancer Patients


For almost four decades, researchers and patient advocates have debated the ethics of informed consent in early-phase clinical trials, studies that test only toxicity and dosing and offer little, if any, therapeutic benefit to those enrolled. A major part of the debate has focused on the motivations of patients who participate. Some research on patient motivations has had disturbing ethical implications, indicating that patients may never fully understand the purpose of trials, despite explanations by the researchers. Others have been more reassuring, noting that patients are driven by a sense of altruism and a desire to help others who may one day suffer from the same disease.

More recently, a few studies have offered what appears to be the happiest of hypotheses. Patients may simply be optimistic and have strong needs to express hope. And because optimism has long been considered an effective coping mechanism for patients with terminal diseases, other researchers have also then assumed that optimism in this context poses few ethical issues.

Now one group of ethicists has just published a study challenging that assumption. It turns out that when it comes to being hopeful, not all optimism is created equal. [...]

1 comment :

  1. You are linking to another article by Dr Chen which is not the one you are quoting from.


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