Attitudes towards informed consent, confidentiality, and substitute treatment decisions in southern African medical students: a case study from Zimbabwe
AbstractThis study explored the attitudes of biomedical science students (medical students) in a non-Western setting towards three medical ethics concepts that are based on fundamental Western culture ethical principles. A dichotomous (agree/disagree) response questionnaire was constructed using Western ethnocentric culture (WEC) based perspectives of informed consent, confidentiality, and substitute decision-making. Hypothesized WEC-Biased responses were assigned to the questionnaire's questions or propositions. A number of useful responses (169) were obtained from a large, cross-sectional, convenience sample of the MBChB students at the University of Zimbabwe Medical School. Statistical analysis described the differences in response patterns between the student's responses compared to the hypothesized WEC-Biased response. The effect of the nine independent variables on selected dependent variables (responses to certain questionnaire questions) was analyzed by stepwise logistic regression. Students concurred with the hypothesized WEC-Biased responses for two-thirds of the questionnaire items. This agreement included support for the role of legal advocacy in the substitute decision-making process. The students disagreed with the hypothesized WEC-Biased responses in several important medical ethics aspects. Most notably, the students indicated that persons with mental dysfunctions, as a class, were properly considered incompetent to make treatment decisions. None of the studied independent variables was often associated with students' responses, but training year was more frequently implicated than either ethnicity or gender. In order to develop internationally and culturally relevant medical ethics standards, non-Western perspectives ought to be acknowledged and incorporated. Two main areas for further efforts include: curriculum development in ethics reasoning and related clinical (medico-legal) decision-making processes that would be relevant to medical students from various cultures, and; the testing of models that could increase legal system input in the clinical process in societies with limited jurisprudence resources.
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Bibliographic InfoArticle provided by Elsevier in its journal Social Science & Medicine.
Volume (Year): 49 (1999)
Issue (Month): 3 (August)
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Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/wps/find/journaldescription.cws_home/315/description#description
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