Date of Award

Spring 2021

Document Type


First Advisor

Ted Bitner

Second Advisor

Sharon Crary

Third Advisor

Erik Wielenberg


Medical Veracity and the Erosion of the American Physician-Patient Trust Relationship investigates the relationship between medical professionals and their patients from a medical ethics point of view. The thesis includes the history and the major theories of veracity as well an analysis of a survey for both non-medical and medical professionals regarding veracity. The Ethical Background section describes the theory of medical veracity and the nature of the Physician-Patient Trust Relationships as well as includes historical views and theories on medical veracity, including Western medicine’s paternalistic roots and the theory of benevolent deception. A description of modern medical veracity, particularly through the lens of Beauchamp and Childress’s, Principles of Biomedical Ethics (1979), the impact of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA), the dangers of soft benevolent deception, the cultural arguments on medical veracity and paternalism, and finally the Shared DecisionMaking Model by Glen Elwyn et al. provide critical context in the Ethical Background section of the thesis. A survey of medical professionals and non-medical professionals on medical veracity and expectations regarding the veracity of medical professionals and an accompanying analysis of the data helps to unearth disconnects or miscommunications between medical professionals and the patients they serve regarding which situations a medical professional will uphold or fail to uphold veracity. The survey was created to help to discern what non-medical professionals and medical professionals believe to be possible motivations for dishonesty from medical professionals. It is largely recognized the physician-patient trust relationship is vital to effective treatment, and as a result, veracity needs to be consistently highly prioritized by medical professionals and this thesis helps to shine a light on critical learnings.


Winner of the 2021 Prindle Prize for Ethics in STEM.