Ethics in cardiothoracic surgery: a survey of surgeons' views.
BACKGROUND: Cardiothoracic surgeons are frequently confronted with complex ethical issues. Educational efforts to help surgeons navigate such issues have been undertaken in recent years, but their effectiveness is uncertain. METHODS: A survey instrument exploring the effects of ethics educational sessions at annual meetings and publications in cardiothoracic surgery journals was sent electronically to cardiothoracic surgeons who belong to The Society of Thoracic Surgeons and the American Association for Thoracic Surgery. RESULTS: Of 3,705 surgeons, 578 responded (15.6%). The majority of respondents practice in an academic setting (55%), attended at least two of the last five Society annual meetings (66%), and at least one of the last five Association annual meetings (68%). A majority of respondents agreed that their own practices would be improved (69%) and that cardiothoracic surgeons in general would benefit (83%) from better understanding of ethical issues. Respondents also believed that demonstration of an adequate understanding of ethical issues should be part of both American Board of Thoracic Surgery certification and maintenance of certification processes (61% and 60%, respectively). Among respondents who attended ethics presentations at annual meetings, only 4% believed that the sessions did not improve their understanding of complex ethical issues, and only 10% believed that the sessions did not affect their surgical practices. CONCLUSIONS: The survey suggested that efforts toward ethics education for cardiothoracic surgeons might be both relevant and important; the results encourage continuation and further improvement of such efforts.
D'Amico, TA; McKneally, MF; Sade, RM
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