Professionalism in Medicine: Results of a National Survey of Physicians - American Board of Medical Specialties

A national survey assessing physician professionalism queried physicians specializing in internal medicine, family practice, pediatrics, surgery, anesthesiology, and cardiology. Physician respondents generally agreed with published norms regarding professionalism principles and behaviors (although approximately a quarter disagreed with the need for recertification). However, self-reported behaviors were not consistent with their expressed beliefs, particularly in the areas related to professional self-regulation, conflict of interest, and resource use. As examples, reported behaviors were consistent with beliefs regarding honesty with patients and protecting patient confidentiality, but not necessarily with reporting of an incompetent/impaired colleagues to the authorities and management of financial conflict of interest. A number of respondents indicated they would accommodate a patient that badly wanted a test, even knowing it was unnecessary. Also, a gap was found between physician attitudes toward quality improvement and  participation in related activities. It is important to note that conformance to norms varied  across participating physician subgroups (specialties). While the authors did not identify a specific means or method for doing so, they suggested exploration of ways to improve  physician professionalism that should reflect physician specialty and practice context.

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