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Allocating medical resources in rural America: Alternative perceptions of justice


  • Jecker, Nancy S.
  • Berg, Alfred O.


In national debates concerning the allocation of medical resources rural America is a neglected topic, and the voices of rural health professionals are seldom heard. This paper highlights the special problems encountered in allocating medical resources within the rural setting and indicates the strategies that rural residents compose for dealing with them. Our findings are based on a study consisting of in-depth open-ended interviews with family physicians in the rural northwest United States. We contrast the approach to justice expressed by these rural physicians with the conception of justice that dominates Western philosophy and bioethics. In the course of our discussion, the diversity within Western culture becomes apparent. We discuss strategies for incorporating different perspectives into local and national allocation debates, clarify the reasons why a more encompassing approach to justice is necessary, and review the implications of our work for future research.

Suggested Citation

  • Jecker, Nancy S. & Berg, Alfred O., 1992. "Allocating medical resources in rural America: Alternative perceptions of justice," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 34(5), pages 467-474, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:34:y:1992:i:5:p:467-474

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    Cited by:

    1. Chiarello, Elizabeth, 2013. "How organizational context affects bioethical decision-making: Pharmacists' management of gatekeeping processes in retail and hospital settings," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 98(C), pages 319-329.


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