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Clin Orthop Relat Res. 2004 Mar;(420):309-18.

Normative ethics in sports medicine.

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Department of Orthopedic Surgery, 424 Stemmler Hall, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6081, USA.


The relationship between a team physician and an athlete differs significantly from the traditional doctor-patient relationship. To better define the ethical norms and ideals in sports medicine, we surveyed the views of practicing team physicians in the Ivy, National Football, and National Hockey Leagues and compared them with responses offered by professional ethicists. Six hypothetical cases were presented, each representing a distinct area of ethical conflict: advertising, conflicting healthcare goals, confidentiality, innovative treatments, enabling dangerous behavior, and treating children. Thirty-one ethicists and 131 team physicians responded to the surveys. Subjects were asked to rate agreement or disagreement with statements that followed the case description. Responses were converted to scores ranging from 0 to 100. A priori, a difference greater than 20 points was set to represent significant disagreement. By that standard, there was agreement between the physicians and ethicists for 18 of 23 statements. We concluded that team physicians and ethicists share many of the same ethical views on common ethical issues in sports medicine. The high degree of variance in the responses in both groups, however, suggests that many unresolved areas remain in the field of ethics in sports medicine.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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