Background We present and discuss the results of a Norwegian survey of medical doctors' views on potential ethical dilemmas in professional practice.
Methods The study was conducted in 2015 as a postal questionnaire to a representative sample of 1612 doctors, among which 1261 responded (78%). We provided a list of 41 potential ethical dilemmas and asked whether each was considered a dilemma, and whether the doctor would perform the task, if in a position to do so. Conceptually, dilemmas arise because of tensions between two or more of four doctor roles: the patient’s advocate, a steward of societal interests, a member of a profession and a private individual.
Results 27 of the potential dilemmas were considered dilemmas by at least 50% of the respondents. For more than half of the dilemmas, the anticipated course of action varied substantially within the professional group, with at least 20% choosing a different course than their colleagues, indicating low consensus in the profession.
Conclusions Doctors experience a large range of ethical dilemmas, of which many have been given little attention by academic medical ethics. The less-discussed dilemmas are characterised by a low degree of consensus in the profession about how to handle them. There is a need for medical ethicists, medical education, postgraduate courses and clinical ethics support to address common dilemmas in clinical practice. Viewing dilemmas as role conflicts can be a fruitful approach to these discussions.
- clinical ethics
Statistics from Altmetric.com
If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.