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Teaching Medical Ethics to Orthopaedic Surgery Residents*

WENGER, NEIL S., M.D., M.P.H.†; LIU, HONGHU, PH.D.†; LIEBERMAN, JAY R., M.D.†, LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA

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Orthopaedic surgery residents will be faced with a variety of ethical issues when they enter clinical practice. A previous survey suggested that they lack knowledge about how to approach several types of medical ethics dilemmas. We developed a medical ethics curriculum for orthopaedic surgery residents and presented it over a one-year period to the residents in one training program. The effect of the educational intervention on the residents' knowledge of medical ethics and their ability to handle hypothetical situations was measured by comparing their responses to a questionnaire, administered before and after the intervention, with those of residents in a training program in which the intervention was not provided.The twenty-five residents at the site of the educational intervention had a mean improvement of 0.10 in the overall score, from a mean score of 0.71 on the baseline survey to a mean score of 0.81 on the follow-up survey. This improvement was significantly greater than the mean improvement of 0.02 for the thirty residents at the control site, who had a mean score of 0.72 on the baseline survey and a mean score of 0.74 on the follow-up survey (p = 0.002). Six residents who participated in the medical ethics curriculum rated it as very useful; seventeen, as somewhat useful; one, as slightly useful; and one, as not at all useful.A medical ethics curriculum can increase orthopaedic residents' knowledge of medical ethics. Whether this curriculum also will lead to behavioral changes requires additional evaluation.

†Departments of Medicine (N. S. W. and H. L.) and Orthopaedic Surgery (J. R. L.), University of California at Los Angeles School of Medicine, 10833 Le Conte Avenue, Los Angeles, California 90095-1736.

Copyright © 1998 by The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, Incorporated
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