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Ethics in optometry: Optometrist and student perspectives on ethical dilemmas

1 November 2002


Introduction: The optometric profession continually faces ethical dilemmas as optometrists seek to provide quality services and materials in a competitive health care environment. The ethical situations that O.D.'s participate in can have negative effects on doctor, patient, and third party provider if not handled properly.

Methods: A previous study surveyed students at schools and colleges of optometry to get an understanding of their responses to various ethical situations. These situations will be presented to practicing optometrists and will be analyzed for differences between doctors and students, and among different groups of optometrists.

Results: Among optometrists, differences in ethical responses occur most frequently between genders. A large difference in responses is seen between practicing optometrists and optometry students.

Conclusion: The largest individual factor that determines an optometrist's ethical decision is gender, whereas an even larger disparity occurs in responses between student and doctor. Ethics training in optometry schools and elsewhere may be beneficial in creating awareness of ethical situations but may not affect the ethical decisions that are made.


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