A model for ethical problem solving in medicine, with practical applications

Am J Psychiatry. 1987 Jul;144(7):839-46. doi: 10.1176/ajp.144.7.839.


Despite the dramatic increase over recent years in the research and teaching of medical ethics, there exists no theoretical framework within which to conceptualize ethical problems in medicine, to say nothing of solutions to these problems. The model proposed here attempts to fill this void by developing a conceptual understanding of the nature of moral dilemmas that can be applied to both theoretical and practical problems in medicine. Practical applications are demonstrated in three areas: personal ethical problem solving, hospital ethics committees, and the teaching of medical ethics. Suggestions are offered for the extension of these and other applications of the model, a model proposed as a foundation to be built upon through further research and daily experiences in a world of conflicting values.

MeSH terms

  • Bioethical Issues*
  • Conflict, Psychological
  • Education, Medical, Undergraduate
  • Ethical Analysis*
  • Ethics Committees, Clinical
  • Ethics, Medical* / education
  • Hospital Administration
  • Humans
  • Models, Psychological*
  • Moral Development
  • Morals
  • Problem Solving*
  • Professional Staff Committees
  • Social Values*
  • Teaching / methods