Variability of ethics education in laboratory medicine training programs: Results of an international survey
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BACKGROUND: Ethical considerations are increasingly important in medicine. We aimed to determine the mode and extent of teaching of ethics in training programs in clinical chemistry and laboratory medicine. METHODS: We developed an on-line survey of teaching in areas of ethics relevant to laboratory medicine. Reponses were invited from directors of training programs who were recruited via email to leaders of national organizations. RESULTS: The survey was completed by 80 directors from 24 countries who directed 113 programs. The largest numbers of respondents directed postdoctoral training of scientists (42%) or physicians (33%), post-masters degree programs (33%), and PhD programs (29%). Most programs (82%) were 2years or longer in duration. Formal training was offered in research ethics by 39%, medical ethics by 31%, professional ethics by 24% and business ethics by 9%. The number of reported hours of formal training varied widely, e.g., from 0 to >15h/year for research ethics and from 0 to >15h for medical ethics. Ethics training was required and/or tested in 75% of programs that offered training. A majority (54%) of respondents reported plans to add or enhance training in ethics; many indicated a desire for online resources related to ethics, especially resources with self-assessment tools. CONCLUSION: Formal teaching of ethics is absent from many training programs in clinical chemistry and laboratory medicine, with heterogeneity in the extent and methods of ethics training among the programs that provide the training. A perceived need exists for online training tools, especially tools with self-assessment components.