Original article
Information of patients with life-threatening diseases: A survey of the attitude of Portuguese family practitioners
José A. Ferraz Gonçalvesa,, , Carla Almeidab, Joana Amorimc, Rita Baltasard, Joana Batistae, Yusianmar Borrerof, João Pedro Fallég, Igor Fariah, Manuel Henriquesi, Helena Maiaj, Teresa Fernandesk, Mariana Moreiral, Susana Moreiram, Camila Nevesn, Ana Ribeiroo, Ana Santosp, Filipa Silvaq, Susana Soaresr, Cristina Sousas, Joana Vicentet, Rita Xavieru
a Portuguese Institute of Oncology, Palliative Care, Porto, Portugal
b Unidade de Saúde Familiar Famílias, Santa Maria da Feira, Portugal
c Unidade de Saúde Familiar Santa Clara, Póvoa de Varzim/Vila do Conde, Portugal
d Unidade de Saúde Familiar Santa Maria, Bragança, Portugal
e Unidade de Saúde Familiar Terras de Ferreira, Paços de Ferreira, Portugal
f Unidade de Saúde Familiar Lethes, Ponte de Lima, Portugal
g Unidade de Saúde Familiar Lagoa – Senhora da Hora, Matosinhos, Portugal
h Unidade de Saúde Familiar Gil Eanes, Viana do Castelo, Portugal
i Unidade de Saúde Familiar Ramalde, Aldoar, Porto, Portugal
j Unidade de Saúde Familiar Porta do Sol, Matosinhos, Portugal
k Unidade de Saúde Familiar Infesta, Matosinhos, Portugal
l Unidade de Saúde Familiar Mar, Póvoa de Varzim/Vila do Conde, Portugal
m Unidade de Saúde Familiar Arco do Prado, Gaia, Portugal
n Unidade de Saúde Familiar São Mamede Infesta, Matosinhos, Portugal
o Unidade de Saúde Familiar Oceanos, Matosinhos, Portugal
p Unidade de Saúde Familiar São João, Porto, Portugal
q Unidade de Saúde Familiar Nova Lousada, Lousada, Portugal
r Unidade de Saúde Familiar São Martinho, Penafiel, Portugal
s Unidade de Saúde Familiar Renascer, Gondomar, Portugal
t Unidade de Saúde Familiar Macedo de Cavaleiros, Macedo de Cavaleiros, Portugal
u Unidade de Saúde Familiar Aldoar, Porto, Portugal
Recebido 08 Abril 2017, Aceitaram 31 Maio 2017

Family practice is the specialty with the highest number of doctors and covers all of Portugal, but, as far as we know, no studies have been carried out on the attitudes and practices of Portuguese family practice doctors about breaking bad news. However, the attitude of these doctors may have a high impact on patients.


To study the practice of family physicians on breaking bad news.


A questionnaire, specifically developed for this survey, was given to 196 doctors about 10% of the family physicians of Northern Portugal.


One hundred fifty-nine (81%) of them participated in this study. The median age was 43 (26–64) and 108 (68%) of them were female. One hundred and seven (67%) doctors disclosed on principle the diagnosis and that rate rose to 81% when patients requested the disclosure. One hundred and two (64%) proactively questioned patients about their wish to know the diagnosis and then decided whether to convey it or not. Forty-seven 47 (30%) doctors disclosed the prognosis on principle and that rate rose to 48% when patients requested the disclosure. Seventy-three (46%) often questioned patients proactively about their wish to know the prognosis and then decided whether to convey it or not. One hundred and two (64%) doctors frequently include patients in treatment decisions. Physicians think that the disclosure may affect hope but may also give patients more control of the situation.


Family practitioners disclose the diagnosis of a chronic life-threatening disease often, especially at patients’ request. General practitioners do not disclose the prognosis of a life-threatening disease often, even at patients’ request.

Family practitioners, Diagnosis disclosure, Prognosis disclosure, Treatment decisions

Open Access

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Porto Biomedical Journal está licenciado com uma Licença Creative Commons - Atribuição-NãoComercial-SemDerivações 4.0 Internacional.

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