The unique ethics of sports medicine

Clin Sports Med. 2004 Apr;23(2):175-82. doi: 10.1016/j.csm.2004.01.003.


The ethical code by which physicians traditionally conduct themselves is based on the relationship between the physician and the patient: both work toward the goal of improving or maintaining health. Constraints on this relationship may be behaviors of patient choice (tobacco use, excessive alcohol use, sedentary behavior, and so on). The athlete-physician relationship is ethically different. Influences such as the physician's employer, the athlete's desire to play with pain and injury, and the economic consequences of playing or not complicate medical decisions. This perspective suggests something different and even unique about the ethics of the sports medicine practitioner. This article explores the differences fostering the ethical tight ropes that sports physicians walk in their sports medicine practices.

MeSH terms

  • Advertising
  • Athletic Injuries / therapy
  • Ethics, Clinical*
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Sports Medicine / ethics*