The role of doctors’ religious faith and ethnicity in taking ethically controversial decisions during end-of-life care.

Professor Clive Seale analyses the role of doctors’ faith and ethnicity in end-of-life decision-making

In this report published in 2010 in the Journal of Medical Ethics Professor Clive Seale explores the role of faith and ethnicity in doctors’ approach to end-of-life decision-making.  He finds that doctors with a religious faith, whether Christian, Hindu, Muslim or other, are more likely to work in palliative or geriatric medicine than in other specialities or in general practice; that specialists in care of the elderly are more likely to be Asian, Hindu or Muslim; and that specialists in palliative medicine are more likely to be white and to describe themselves as Christian.  The report observes that “it would seem advisable that doctors become more aware of how broader sets of values, such as those associated with religiosity or a non-religious outlook, may enter into their decision-making in end-of-life care”.  This is an interesting issue, which perhaps raises the further question of why individuals choose to become doctors.  Is there, for example, a particularly strong care ethic in faith cultures? And, if so, how does that ethic manifest itself in specific ethnic or faith environments?


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