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Understanding, being, and doing of bioethics; a state-level cross-sectional study of knowledge, attitude, and practice among healthcare professionals.

BMC Medical Ethics 2024 March 19
BACKGROUND: The field of bioethics examines the moral and ethical dilemmas that arise in the biological sciences, healthcare, and medical practices. There has been a rise in medical negligence cases, complaints against healthcare workers, and public dissatisfaction with healthcare professionals, according to reports from the Indian Medical Council and other healthcare associations. We intend to assess the level of knowledge, attitude, and practice of bioethics among the registered healthcare professionals (HCPs) of Maharashtra, India.

METHODS: A State-level online survey was conducted among the registered HCPs (n = 2143) casing all five regions of the Maharashtra state using a pre-tested self-administered questionnaire. The responses were expressed as mean, and proportions with their standard deviation and 95% CI respectively. Binary logistic regression and a multivariate logistic model were used to determine factors associated with knowledge, attitude, and practice of bioethics.

RESULTS: Of the 2143 registered HCPs in Maharashtra included in this study, most of them (65.2%) had adequate knowledge of bioethics. Adequate knowledge was associated with lower age, profession (nurses and dentists), employment in the private sector, HCPS at Marathwada and Pune, and higher educational attainment. About 3 in 5 HCPs (59.4%) had a favorable attitude towards the ethical practice of bioethics, and was associated with profession, place of work, region of practice, and work experience. The distribution of unethical bioethics practices among 10 items was proportionally high, and only 34.4% reported good/fair practice. The common unethical practices in the state were allowing patients to be examined by interns, and not informing them about professional misconduct to the regulatory bodies.

CONCLUSION: Most HCPs had adequate knowledge of bioethics, which is encouraging and would favor the laying foundation for forming a good bioethics framework. Only 3/5 HCPs demonstrated a favorable attitude, and the observed unethical practice is alarmingly common. A serious consideration to evaluate the compliance level of bioethics practice periodically and measures to educate, sensitize, and train bioethics among HCPs in Maharashtra is warranted.

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