Telling the Truth of the Illness: Perspectives of older persons who experienced with caring the end-of-life person


  • Sirilak Somanusorn Faculty of Nursing, Vongchavalitkul University
  • Kanlaya Paikoh Faculty of Nursing, Vongchavalitkul University
  • Marayart Sujaritwarakul Chonburi Hospital


Truth telling, older person, end of life, qualitative research



         Introduction: Telling the truth regarding the illness is crucial for healthcare professionals and end-of-life patients.

Research objective:  To describe perspectives on meaning and need of telling the truth regarding the illness among older persons who experienced with caring at end-of-life care.    

         Research methodology: This was a qualitative study. The informants were fifteen older persons selected by using purposive and snowball sampling.  Data were collected  using in-depth interviews.  Content analysis were used to analyze data.

         Research findings: Meanings of telling the truth regarding illness were identified in three themes as follows: 1) telling data with no hiding; 2) giving data that can help patients to prepare their life; and 3) telling frustrated data but need to be accepted.  It was found that most informants preferred someone to tell them the truth with no hiding for two reasons, including 1) preparing for acceptance; and 2) planning their lives and doing what they want to do. The characteristics of telling the truth were: 1) informing with understanding and encouraging; 2) focusing mainly on patient's condition; 3) informing directly; 4) informing indirectly and gradually; 5) informing the fact to those who were ready; and 6) informing periodically, not at the last moment.  Some informants did not want the truth regarding the illness to be told due to two reasons as follows: 1) fearing of knowing the truth,   and 2) knowing can cause suffering.

            Conclusions: Telling the truth regarding the illness to the end-of-life older person is very important. It affects the acceptance and the plan of the older person’s end of life.

Recommendations: Healthcare professionals who involve in telling the truth regarding  the illness to the older persons should have good communication techniques, focusing on their needs, and understanding the aging changes, both physically and mentally, at their end of lives.


Download data is not yet available.


Sittichanbuncha Y, Paisansuthideth U, Pawinwat S. National forum of palliative care: the harmony of education to service; 2011 Feb 21-23; Bangkok, Thailand. Bangkok: Offset Creation; 2011. (in Thai).

Sanprasarn P, Chaleoykitti S. Ethical judgment in risks of nursing practice among Thai nurses as perceived by nursing administrators. The Royal Thai Army Nurses J 2017; 18(1):194-205. (in Thai).

WHO Regional Office for Europe’s Health Evidence Network. What are the palliative care needs of older people and how might they be met? [internet]. 2004 [cited 2019 March 5]. Available from: Copenhagen: World Health Organization

Getpook C. Truth telling. Songkla Med J 2003; 21(3):223-29. (in Thai).

Elshamy K. Cultural and ethical challenges in providing palliative care for cancer patients at the end of life. Palliative Medicine and Hospice Care 2017; SE(1): S75-84.

Panuthai S, Srirat C, Wonghongkul T. Characteristics of a good death as perceived by related people in the upper northern Thai context. J of Thailand Nursing and Midwifery Council 2020; 35(4):35-53. (in Thai).

Thaipradit S. Role of nurse for advance care plan in critical patient. Nursing J 2017; 44(4):189-194. (in Thai).

Surakul J, Chaowalit A, Phantusena C, Suttharangsee W. Experiences of patients in being told the truth about their illnesses from member of the health team. Songkla Med J 2002; 20(4):241-49. (in Thai).

Wuthiphongpat P. Palliative care according to the religious beliefs and the living will. Veridian E-J, Science and Technology Silapakorn University 2016; 3(6):149-161. (in Thai).

Xue D, Wheeler JL, Abernethy AP. Cultural difference in truth-telling to cancer patients: Chinese and American approaches to the disclosure of bad news. Prog in Palliat Care 2011; 19(3):125-131.

Petpichetchian W. Best nursing practice in cancer care. Songkla: Chanmuang Press; 2011. (in Thai).

Pattniboon W. Pratunon J. Kaewmafai J. Model development of palliative care for elderly with end stage chronic illnesses at medical unit II, Loi Et hospital; 2012. (in Thai).

Rachawat W, Kunsongkeit W, Kangchai W. Caring need and the caring need response of family members of terminal cancer patients. J of Boromarajonani College of Nursing, Bangkok 2019; 35(1): 153-162. (in Thai).

Pungchompoo W, Losawadkul S. Ethical dilemmas and ethical decision making of nurses working in Intensive Care Units. Nursing J 2006; 33(1):177-188. (in Thai).

Phengjard J. Nurse’s role in palliative care. J of Boromarajonani College of Nursing, Bangkok 2014; 30(1): 100-109. (in Thai).

Somanusorn S, Hattkit U, Nilmanat K. Caring for a relative at the end of life to die peacefully in the Thai buddhist culture. J of Faculty of Nursing Burapha University 2011; 9(2):28-41. (in Thai).

Shaw S. Exploring the concepts behind truth-telling in palliative care. Int J of Palliat Nurs 2008; 14(7):356-59.

Thongcharoen V, Viripiromgool S, Praditsuwan R, Peachpansri S, Sukkapathanasrikul S. Palliative and end of life care model for older adults. J Pub Health Dev. 2017; 15 (Suppl.1):S38-59. (in Thai).

Phothisita C. The art and science of qualitative research, 3rd ed. Bangkok: Amarin printing & publishing; 2007. (in Thai).

Miller CA. Nursing for wellness in older adults, 5thed. Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer/ Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2009.

Pongsiri C. Experience of caring for terminal patients for a good death: case study. Thai Red Cross Nursing J 2018; 11(2):1-14. (in Thai).

Tongprateep T. Spirituality: a dimension of nursing. Bangkok: Chulalongkorn University printing; 2009. (in Thai).

Pancharoen C. Plubrukarn R. Thisayakorn U. editors. Communication skills: principle of effective communication. Bangkok: Pediatric society of Thailand; 2007. (in Thai).



How to Cite

Somanusorn S, Paikoh K, Sujaritwarakul M. Telling the Truth of the Illness: Perspectives of older persons who experienced with caring the end-of-life person. JHNR [Internet]. 2022 Apr. 1 [cited 2023 Feb. 5];38(1):213-26. Available from:



Research articles