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ORIGINAL ARTICLE
Year : 2018  |  Volume : 3  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 89-96

Medical ethics in a resource-constrained context: A cross-sectional study of awareness, attitude, practice, violations of its principles, and ethical dilemmas experienced by medical professionals in Abia State, Nigeria


1 Department of Family Medicine, Federal Medical Centre, Umuahia, Abia State, Nigeria
2 Department of Community Medicine, Abia State University Teaching Hospital, Aba, Nigeria

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Gabriel Uche Pascal Iloh
Department of Family Medicine, Federal Medical Centre, Umuahia, Abia State
Nigeria
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/bjhs.bjhs_19_18

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BACKGROUND: Ethics of medical care are global health concerns. It is universally acknowledged that medical practice should be guided by ethical principles which serve as yardsticks for regulation of professional conduct and discipline. AIM: The study was aimed at describing the awareness, attitude, practice, violations of ethical principles, and ethical dilemmas experienced by medical professionals in Abia State, Nigeria. MATERIALS AND METHODS: A descriptive study was carried out on a cross-section of 210 medical practitioners in Abia State, Nigeria. Data were collected using pretested, self-administered questionnaire that elicited information on awareness, attitude, practice, violations of ethical principles, and ethical dilemmas. Attitude and practice of principles of medical ethic (ME) were assessed in the previous 1 year. Violations and ethical dilemmas were assessed over lifetime practice as a medical doctor. RESULTS: The age of the participants ranged from 26 to 77 years. There were 173 (82.4%) males and 37 (17.6%) females. The participants were most commonly aware of principles of autonomy (100%) and nonmaleficence (100%), while the least was justice (91.9%). The positive attitude to principles of ME was predominantly oriented toward autonomy (92.4%) and the least was justice (76.2%). The most adequately practiced principle was autonomy (78.1%) and the least was justice (71.4%). The most violated ethical principle was autonomy while the most common ethical dilemma was issues related to rights of patients. The attitude (P = 0.042) and practice (P = 0.034) of principle of autonomy were significantly associated with >10 years of medical practice. CONCLUSION: Awareness of principles of ME was very high but did not translate to appropriate positive attitude and adequate practice orientations. The most violated principle was patients' autonomy and most common ethical dilemma was issues related to the rights of the patients.


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