How Family Physicians Approach Ethical Problems
The Journal of Family Practice
The defining features of family medicine as described in the literature have important ethical implications. In an attempt to study the day-to-day practice of family physicians regarding these ethical issues, a 28-item questionnaire was sent to 95 part-time and 17 full-time family physician teachers associated with the University of Western Ontario's Department of Family Medicine. Of the 112 questionnaires mailed out, 97 were returned for a response rate of 86.6 percent. There was a significant spread of answers, suggesting there is no uniform opinion in the sample population. The findings suggest that there are important differences between the description of family medicine in the literature and what the family physicians in this study do in their day-to-day practice. The family physicians in this study, while prepared to coerce patients, were not prepared to discharge from their practices patients who were noncompliant. Physician age is an important variable in some ethical decisions, but not in others.