Diagnosis disclosure in dementia: Understanding the experiences of clinicians and patients who have recently given or received a diagnosis

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Abstract

Diagnosis disclosure in dementia is a complex area that results in positive and negative outcomes for both clinicians and patients. Eight clinicians and seven patients were interviewed about their recent experience of either giving or receiving a diagnosis of dementia. Interview transcripts were analysed using interpretative phenomenological analysis. The analysis revealed two higher order themes: Hiding from the Truth and The Social Environment: Help or Hindrance? Both clinicians and patients experience avoidance in relation to the diagnosis. The results support a psychosocial model of dementia and highlight the need for flexible follow up interventions that both recognise patients’ use of avoidance and denial as coping strategies and facilitate social support. The social environment can also assist and hamper clinicians’ efforts to help their patients. Future research is needed to elucidate optimal conditions for facilitating patients’ uptake of positive coping strategies.

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