The role of family and culture in the disclosure of bad news: A multicentre cross-sectional study in Pakistan

Document Type



Family Medicine; Community Health Sciences; School of Nursing and Midwifery, Pakistan; Medical College Pakistan


Objectives: Disclosure of bad news is distressing for patients and family members. Our aim was to assess patients' perceptions and preferences regarding bad news in the health setting.
Methods: Cross-sectional, multi-centered study supported by an external grant in 15 Government and Private Hospitals across Pakistan. A sample size of 1673 patients and family members was used. Ethics permission/consent was taken from each participating hospital and participant. Responses were compared across provinces, gender, age, education and income.
Results: >80% patients preferred their relatives to know the diagnosis first and they wanted the news to be disclosed to them by doctors. Significant association between education level, income and preference for wanting to know the diagnosis was found. Reasons for wanting to know the diagnosis included treatment, prognosis and prevention options whereas reasons for not wanting to know included fear of emotions and God's will.
Conclusion: The majority of Pakistani patients want to be informed and want the family to know first. Preferences for disclosure vary across, age, education and income level.
Innovation: First countrywide study on this topic. Identifies need for culturally sensitive guidelines that include the family's role in disclosure of bad news.


Issue and pagination are not provided by the author/publisher.

Publication (Name of Journal)

PEC Innovation