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Is medical students' moral orientation changeable after preclinical medical education?
  1. Chaou-Shune Lin1,2,
  2. Kuo-Inn Tsou1,3,
  3. Shu-Ling Cho1,
  4. Ming-Shium Hsieh4,
  5. Hsi-Chin Wu5,
  6. Chyi-Her Lin6
  1. 1College of Medicine, Fu-Jen Catholic University, New Taipei City, Taiwan, ROC
  2. 2Department of Emergency Medicine, Catholic Mercy Hospital, Hsin-Chu county, Taiwan, ROC
  3. 3Department of Pediatrics, Cardinal Tien Hospital, New Taipei City, Taiwan, ROC
  4. 4College of Medicine, Taipei Medical University and Hospital, Taipei, Taiwan, ROC
  5. 5College of Medicine, China Medical University and Hospital, Taichung, Taiwan, ROC
  6. 6College of Medicine, National Cheng Kung University and Hospital, Tainan, Taiwan, ROC
  1. Correspondence to Professor Kuo-Inn Tsou, College of Medicine, Fu-Jen Catholic University, No 510, Chung-Cheng Road, Hsin-Chuang District, New Taipei City 24205, Taiwan, ROC; 049687{at}


Purpose Moral orientation can affect ethical decision-making. Very few studies have focused on whether medical education can change the moral orientation of the students. The purpose of the present study was to document the types of moral orientation exhibited by medical students, and to study if their moral orientation was changed after preclinical education.

Methods From 2007 to 2009, the Mojac scale was used to measure the moral orientation of Taiwan medical students. The students included 271 first-year and 109 third-year students. They were rated as a communitarian, dual, or libertarian group and followed for 2 years to monitor the changes in their Mojac scores.

Results In both first and third-year students, the dual group after 2 years of preclinical medical education did not show any significant change. In the libertarian group, first and third-year students showed a statistically significant increase from a score of 99.4 and 101.3 to 103.0 and 105.7, respectively. In the communitarian group, first and third-year students showed a significant decline from 122.8 and 126.1 to 116.0 and 121.5, respectively.

Conclusion During the preclinical medical education years, students with communitarian orientation and libertarian orientation had changed in their moral orientation to become closer to dual orientation. These findings provide valuable hints to medical educators regarding bioethics education and the selection criteria of medical students for admission.

  • Aged
  • bioethics education
  • clinical ethics
  • medical humanism
  • moral orientation
  • moral reasoning

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  • Funding This project was supported by a grant from the National Science Council (NSC 95-2516-S-030-004-MY3). The NSC supports the academic research in Taiwan.

  • Competing interests None.

  • Patient consent Obtained.

  • Ethics approval Ethics approval was provided by Fu-Jen Catholic University.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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