The impact of factitious disorder on the physician-patient relationship. An epistemological model

Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy 5 (3):253-261 (2002)
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Theoretical models for physician-patient communication in clinical practice are described in literature, but none of them seems adequate for solving the communication problem in clinical practice that emerges in case of factitious disorder. Theoretical models generally imply open communication and respect for the autonomy of the patient. In factitious disorder, the physician is confronted by lies and (self)destructive behaviour of the patient, who in one way or another tries to involve the physician in this behaviour. It is no longer controversial that the physician should communicate his consideration of a factitious disorder without insistence that the patient accepts this diagnosis. However, the balance between patient autonomy and open communication on the one hand, and the preservation of the patient's health, physician integrity and of a constructive physician-patient relationship on the other is easily disrupted. In this article, an epistemological model is described to facilitate a positive outcome of confrontation in treatment of factitious disorder. Analysing the problem in terms of systems theory will help the physician to assess what information is appropriate to use in which phase of the patient's treatment, while preserving the physician-patient relationship



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