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Teaching medical ethics: what is the impact of role models? Some experiences from Swedish medical schools
  1. N Lynoe1,
  2. R Löfmark1,
  3. H O Thulesius2
  1. 1
    Unit of Medical Ethics, LIME, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden
  2. 2
    Department of Clinical Sciences, Division of Family Medicine, Lund University, Sweden
  1. Niels Lynoe, Centre for Bioethics, LIME, Karolinska Institutet, 171 77 Stockholm, Sweden; niels.lynoe{at}


The goal of the present study was to elucidate what influences medical students’ attitudes and interests in medical ethics. At the end of their first, fifth and last terms, 409 medical students from all six medical schools in Sweden participated in an attitude survey. The questions focused on the students’ experience of good and poor role models, attitudes towards medical ethics in general and perceived effects of the teaching of medical ethics. Despite a low response rate at some schools, this study indicates that increased interest in medical ethics was related to encountering good physician role models, and decreased interest, to encountering poor role models. Physicians involved in the education of medical students seem to teach medical ethics as role models even when ethics is not on the schedule. The low response rate prevents us from drawing definite conclusions, but the results could be used as hypotheses to be further scrutinised.

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  • Competing interests: None declared.

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