Use of the Hippocratic or other professional oaths in UK medical schools in 2017: practice, perception of benefit and principlism

BMC Res Notes. 2017 Dec 29;10(1):777. doi: 10.1186/s13104-017-3114-7.


Objective: This paper concerns the continued use of the Hippocratic Oath in United Kingdom (UK) medical schools. A survey of all UK medical schools looked at which schools use the Oath, which variants they use, and what they perceive to be the benefits of using the Oath. 27 schools participated in the study.

Results: Although some authors have deemed the Oath as out of date for the purposes of modern medicine [1], new variants of the Oath have been embraced and 19/27 (70%) of schools use an Oath, with some Universities asking student doctors to acknowledge this Oath on entry to and graduation from medical school. There is a renewed interest in use of the Oath, with use in some Schools on admission and graduation. Reasons for adopting the Oath include a desire to enhance good practice and to prevent unwanted behaviour. Variants of the Oath used were analysed according to which bioethical principles are contained within them and some do not accord with all principles. A new variant of the Oath is proposed which encompasses all four bioethical principles.

Keywords: Ethics; Hippocratic Oath; Medical ethics; Medical practice; Patient safety; Principlism; Professional codes; Professionalism.

MeSH terms

  • Ethics, Medical / education*
  • Hippocratic Oath*
  • Humans
  • Patient Safety
  • Principle-Based Ethics*
  • Schools, Medical
  • Students, Medical / psychology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United Kingdom