Online Program

Assessing ethical reasoning among pre-professional health students

Monday, November 2, 2015 : 11:10 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.

Kristi Lewis, Ph.D., M.P.H., C.P.H., Department of Health Sciences/CHBS, James Madison University, Harrisonburg, VA
Andrew Peachey, DrPH, Department of Health Sciences, James Madison University, Harrisonburg, VA

James Madison University’s (JMU) Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP), known as the Madison Collaborative (MC), focuses on teaching students ethical reasoning skills through the application of eight key questions. Goals of the program include preparing students to be able to apply such skills when making decisions in their personal and professional lives.  Method: To explore the attitudes of pre-professional health students on ethical reasoning, 280 pre-professional health students completed the Survey of Ethical Reasoning (SER), developed by the Center for Assessment and Research Studies (CARS) at JMU, through an online survey. Results: Eighty-four percent strongly agreed that as future healthcare providers, ethical decision making is important. However, only 27% strongly agreed that when faced with an ethical dilemma they would be able to make an appropriate decision. When respondents were asked if they were comfortable applying their ethical reasoning skills to life situations, 32% strongly agreed. A Kruskal-Wallis test revealed no differences among various pre-professional health students on ethical reasoning skills and attitudes (p=0.41). Students reported significantly higher agreement that ethical decision making was important for future healthcare provider (84% strongly agreed) than believed they were prepared to make an appropriate decision when faced with an ethical dilemma (27% strongly agreed) (z=-9.55, p<0.001).Conclusions: Pre-professional health students agree that ethical reasoning skills are important as a health care provider. Since the MC is a new program, many respondents were not familiar with the eight key questions used to evaluate ethical dilemmas. This may explain the low agreement related to being able to apply ethical reasoning skills. This information is beneficial in planning future educational activities and interventions related to ethical reasoning and the need for the MC to be part of the curriculum for the pre-professional health students.

Learning Areas:

Conduct evaluation related to programs, research, and other areas of practice
Ethics, professional and legal requirements
Other professions or practice related to public health
Public health or related research
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Define the perceptions of undergraduate pre-professional health students on ethical reasoning. Identify the needs of pre-professional health students in regards to developing ethical reasoning skills. Describe the development of ethical reasoning skills in pre-professional students.

Keyword(s): Ethics, Teaching

Presenting author's disclosure statement:
Organization/institution whose products or services will be discussed: None - Not applicable

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have over 15 years of experience in public health. In addition, I have completed a number of research projects in the public health field.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.