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West J Med. 1992 Sep;157(3):323-7.

Ethical dilemmas in a cross-cultural context. A Chinese example.

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  • 1Department of Family and Community Medicine, University of California, School of Medicine, San Francisco.


Considerable attention is now being given to ethical conflicts raised by such issues as the disclosure of diagnosis and prognosis, the role of the family in making medical decisions, and the withholding or withdrawing of treatment of terminally ill patients. Already complicated, these issues take on added complexity in contexts where medical professionals and patients have differing cultural beliefs and practices. Ethical dilemmas that develop in multicultural settings have been largely unaddressed. Through the analysis of a case involving the hospital admission and death of a Chinese woman with metastatic lung cancer, we examine some of these dilemmas and their effect on the patient, family, and physicians. Many issues were raised by this case regarding the relationships among ethnic background, bioethics, and medical care.

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