A Study of the Ethical Sensitivity of Physicians in Turkey
Gundogmus, Umit N.
Nursing Ethics 2003 September; 10(5): 472-484
In order to prepare bioethics and clinical ethics courses for clinicians in Turkey, we needed to know the attitudes of physicians when placed in ethically difficult care situations. We presented four cases to 207 physicians who are members of the Physicians' Association in Kocaeli, Turkey. Depending on the decisions they made in each case, we determined whether they were aware of the ethical aspects of the cases and the principles they chose as a basis for their decisions. We aimed to gain information about their ethical tendencies and moral sensitivity. A small number of physicians stated that they would 'show respect for a patient's living will' in the first case, but more stated that they would 'let the patient refuse the treatment' in the second. In the third case, where medical confidentiality was the significant ethical issue, most of the physicians said that they would act in order to maintain confidentiality. For the last case, more than half the physicians chose to 'tell the truth' to the patient. The paternalism shown in the doctors' decisions on the first two cases was no longer observed in those made for the last two cases. We concluded that the physicians who participated in our study have low sensitivity to living wills (or advance directives) and patients refusing treatment. However, when issues of medical confidentiality and truth-telling are concerned, they take care to protect the autonomy of the individual an are relatively more aware of the ethical aspects of these cases.
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