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Canadian Journal of Gastroenterology
Volume 18 (2004), Issue 5, Pages 315-317
Original Article

Ethical Issues in Canadian Gastroenterology: Resluts of a Survey of Canadian Gastroenterology Trainees

Kenneth Malhotra and Clifford A Ottaway

Department of Medicine, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Received 7 January 2004; Accepted 19 March 2004

Copyright © 2004 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


BACKGROUND: Specialty-specific bioethical education is a mandated component of gastroenterology training programs in Canada, but no gastroenterology-specific bioethical curriculum is available.

PURPOSE: To assess the relative importance of a variety of bioethical issues to the practice of gastroenterology.

METHOD: A convenience sample of Canadian gastroenterology residents and staff was surveyed at a national meeting for Canadian gastroenterology trainees. They were asked to indicate their opinions of the relative importance of 24 different bioethical issues in their practice of gastroenterology.

RESULTS: Respondents made distinctions in the relevance of different bioethical issues to the practice of gastroenterology and there was substantial concordance in the rankings indicated by residents and staff. Truth telling, consent and the capacity to give consent, and consent with regard to specific endoscopic procedures were ranked by both residents and staff as most important to their practice of gastroenterology. In contrast, the issue of euthanasia and assisted suicide was ranked near the bottom of the list by both residents and staff. The results differ in some respects from the key ethical questions identified by opinion leaders in gastroenterology.

INTERPRETATION: Gastroenterology residents and staff identify some topics as much more relevant than others to the practice of gastroenterology. It is proposed that this can provide a framework for developing a gastroenterology-specific bioethical curriculum, and that there is an important opportunity for developing a joint program through collaboration among gastroenterology training programs across Canada.