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Prescribing under the Influence: The Business of Breastmilk Substitutes


  • Rosa Rios

    () (College of Business, Victoria University, Vic 3000, Australia)

  • Hernan Riquelme

    () (College of Business, GUST University, Hawally 32093, Kuwait)

  • Sharif El Beshlawy

    () (Kuwait Maastricht Business School, Al-Dasmah 35003, Kuwait)


This study draws on a general theoretical framework comprising of a decision maker (a doctor), perceived moral intensity of the issue (breastfeeding substitute prescription), and the situational environment (hospital policy, pharma company promotions, and mother’s beliefs regarding breastfeeding) to explain the physician’s role and influence on mothers’ infant feeding choices when prescribing infant formula in Kuwait, Middle East. Moral intensity is an issue-contingent model that suggests ethical decisions vary in terms of how much a moral imperative is present in a situation. The moral intensity of the issue is assessed using six components. Path Least Squares results indicate the following moral intensity components have significant impact on prescription behavior: magnitude of consequences, probability of effect, and temporal immediacy. Company promotion and hospital policy also significantly influence doctor’s prescription of infant formula. Doctors appear to disengage from the consequences of over prescribing infant formula.

Suggested Citation

  • Rosa Rios & Hernan Riquelme & Sharif El Beshlawy, 2016. "Prescribing under the Influence: The Business of Breastmilk Substitutes," Social Sciences, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 5(4), pages 1-15, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:gam:jscscx:v:5:y:2016:i:4:p:53-:d:78884

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Mick, David Glen, 1996. " Are Studies of Dark Side Variables Confounded by Socially Desirable Responding? The Case of Materialism," Journal of Consumer Research, Oxford University Press, vol. 23(2), pages 106-119, September.
    2. McCrory, Cathal & Layte, Richard, 2011. "The effect of breastfeeding on children's educational test scores at nine years of age: Results of an Irish cohort study," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 72(9), pages 1515-1521, May.
    3. Singhapakdi, Anusorn & Vitell, Scott J. & Kraft, Kenneth L., 1996. "Moral Intensity and Ethical Decision-Making of Marketing Professionals," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 36(3), pages 245-255, July.
    4. Joan McMahon & Robert Harvey, 2007. "The Effect of Moral Intensity on Ethical Judgment," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 72(4), pages 335-357, June.
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    More about this item


    over prescription; breastfeeding; medical ethics; moral intensity; hospital policy; moral judgment;

    JEL classification:

    • A - General Economics and Teaching
    • B - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology
    • N - Economic History
    • P - Economic Systems
    • Y80 - Miscellaneous Categories - - Related Disciplines - - - Related Disciplines
    • Z00 - Other Special Topics - - General - - - General


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