Read another response by Thomas Pogge
The following dilemma has arisen in my work as a health professional. I suppose it is more of an ethical conundrum than anything else. Imagine the following scenario: Someone is seeking help because they believe they may be at high risk of developing condition X. Our assessment suggests that they are in fact at high risk of developing condition X. Part of the reason they are high risk is BECAUSE they are worried they may develop condition X. As you can imagine informing the person of the results of their assessment can actually lead to that high risk person developing condition X. Health professionals have a clear duty to respect autonomy (including telling people the truth), balanced with a duty not to cause harm, and a duty to do good. Bearing this in mind, what should we tell the clients about the results of their assessment? NOTE: They would still be at high risk of developing condition X if we didn't assess or treat them. What we appear to do currently is assess them, but when communicating their results to them we perhaps aren't entirely candid (thus threatening respect for autonomy). We also try to reduce their fears of developing condition X by perhaps challenging the idea that condition X is really a bad thing - forgetting that the service is set up specifically because condition X is generally accepted to be a bad thing.