Medical ethics in the primary care setting

Soc Sci Med. 1987;25(6):705-9. doi: 10.1016/0277-9536(87)90098-0.


Much popular and professional understanding of 'medical ethics' is nowadays located in quandary ethics, exotic life-and-death decision-making, and tertiary care settings. Medical ethics in the primary care setting is concerned with very different matters. Among these are issues having to do with basic self-understandings of health professionals and patients and their fiduciary relationships; with fundamental social, political and economic notions which will and do shape the allocation and distribution of health care resources; with the goals and purposes appropriate to medical interventions of various sorts; and with the care of the whole person rather than the limited attention to a particular illness or disease syndrome. The commitments of primary care medicine challenge in radical ways some cherished claims of modern liberal societies by questioning the limits of autonomous individualism and by affirming the indispensability of social justice.

MeSH terms

  • Bioethical Issues
  • Ethical Theory
  • Ethics, Medical*
  • Health Services Accessibility
  • Humans
  • Internationality
  • Paternalism
  • Personal Autonomy
  • Philosophy
  • Primary Health Care*
  • Public Health
  • Resource Allocation*
  • Social Justice
  • Social Values