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Giving information and involving in treatment: what do psychiatrists think? A review

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  11 October 2011

Monica Paccaloni
Dipartimento di Medicina e Sanità Pubblica, Sezione di Psichiatria e di Psicologia Clinica, Università di Verona, Verona
Francesca Moretti
Dipartimento di Medicina e Sanità Pubblica, Sezione di Psichiatria e di Psicologia Clinica, Università di Verona, Verona
Christa Zimmermann*
Dipartimento di Medicina e Sanità Pubblica, Sezione di Psichiatria e di Psicologia Clinica, Università di Verona, Verona
Address for correspondence: Professor C. Zimmermann, Dipartimento di Medicina e Sanità Pubblica, Servizio di Psicologia Medica, Università di Verona, Policlinico G. B Rossi, Piazzale L.A Scuro 10, 37134 Verona, Fax: +39-045-585.871. E-mail:


Aims – A narrative review of studies on the psychiatrists’ opinion about the information process and the factors that may influence the extent to which patients are informed and involved in the information process. Methods – A literature review, without restrictions of time, was carried out using Medline and Psychlnfo databases. Results – Twenty three studies of interest were identified. The diagnosis of depression, anxiety and substances abuse are comunicated in a high percentage of cases; while the diagnosis of schizophrenia and other psychotic disordes are often concealed to patients. As far as pharmacological treatment is concerned, psychiatrists are more inclined to communicate those side effects which from their point of view are considered as less stressfull for the patient. No studies refer to the comunication of prognosis. The reasons adduced by psychiatrists for informing or not informing regard the etiology and the validity of some psychiatric diagnoses, the cognitive difficulties of patients, worries about stigmatizing or damaging patients. Conclusions – The choice to involve patients in treatment should be made from the prospective of promoting patient's well being rather than to depend on psychiatrists' communication difficulties, prejudices or on a habit of a paternalistic relationship style.

Declaration of Interest: none of the three authors has had any interest or received any form of support, including that from drug companies and honoraria for lectures and consultancies, potentially in conflict with this scientific work

Original Articles
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2005

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