Project on the Good Physician: A Proposal for a Moral Intuitionist Model of Virtuous Caring.
THEORY: In the Project on the Good Physician, the authors endeavor to advance medical character education by proposing and testing a moral intuitionist model of virtuous caring that may be applicable to physician training. This model proposes that the moral intuition to care/harm motivates students to extend care to those in need. HYPOTHESES: Hypothesis 1: Medical students will report stronger preferences for the intuition to Care/harm over other moral intuitions in clinical decision making. Hypothesis 2: Care/harm will have the strongest correlation with Generosity than the other moral intuitions. Hypothesis 3: There will be positive associations between Care/harm and the caring virtues (Mindfulness, Empathic Compassion, and Generosity). Hypotheses 4-5: The virtue of Empathic Compassion (or Mindfulness) will moderate the relationship between Care/harm and Generosity. Hypotheses 6-7: Neuroticism (or Burnout) will negatively moderate the association between Care/harm and Generosity (or between Empathic Compassion and Generosity). METHOD: The authors used data from a 2011 nationally representative sample of U.S. medical students (N = 500) to test the relationship between the moral intuition to Care/harm and physician caring virtues. Moral intuitions were assessed using the Moral Foundations Questionnaire, whereas physician virtues were measured using scales adapted from validated constructs. RESULTS: The authors found that students reported stronger preferences for the intuition to Care/harm over the four other moral intuitions. Each moral foundation was weakly but significantly correlated with Generosity, yet Care/harm had the strongest correlation among them. Neuroticism and Burnout did not weaken the link between Care/harm and the virtues. CONCLUSIONS: Data from the descriptive-correlational study reported here offer preliminary support for the construct validity of an educational model that targets the moral intuitions. The article concludes with a discussion of the implications of a moral intuitionist approach for medical character education and offers three hypotheses for future empirical research.
Michael Leffel, G; Oakes Mueller, RA; Ham, SA; Curlin, FA; Yoon, JD
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