Tacit Knowledge in Low-Status Eldercare Work

AMA J Ethics. 2022 Sep 1;24(9):E883-889. doi: 10.1001/amajethics.2022.883.


Cultural failure to recognize tacit knowledge that informs eldercare is key to understanding how and why the labor of workers in this area of professional caregiving, especially those earning low wages, is dramatically undervalued in the US health sector. This essay first explains key differences in credential-based knowledge and tacit forms of health knowledge and then considers how status differentiation privileges credential-based knowledge of clinicians of higher status, such as physicians and nurses, who do not perform the hour-to-hour care for most of our country's elders. Finally, this article suggests the ethical and clinical importance of health care organizations' sources of knowledge and roles in equitably valuing labor to promote quality service delivery, better working conditions, and better pay for workers earning low wages.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Humans
  • Knowledge*
  • Morals*