The state of ethics education at medical schools in Turkey: taking stock and looking forward

Kavas M. V., Ulman Y. I., DEMİR F., ARTVİNLİ F., Sahiner M., DEMİRÖREN M., ...More

BMC MEDICAL EDUCATION, vol.20, no.1, 2020 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 20 Issue: 1
  • Publication Date: 2020
  • Doi Number: 10.1186/s12909-020-02058-9
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI), Scopus, Biotechnology Research Abstracts, CAB Abstracts, EMBASE, MEDLINE, Veterinary Science Database, Directory of Open Access Journals
  • Hacettepe University Affiliated: Yes


Background Ethics teaching is globally considered an essential part of medical education fostering professionalism. It does not only provide knowledge for good clinical conduct, but also trains medical students as virtuous practitioners. Although Turkey has had a considerable experience in ethics education of healthcare professionals, the general state of ethics curricula at medical schools in Turkey is unknown. Methods The purpose of this study was to collect comprehensive data about the ethics education programs at medical schools in Turkey. To this aim, we designed a cross-sectional descriptive questionnaire survey which focuses on the content, teaching years, teaching, assessment and evaluation methodologies, workforce and infrastructure. We delivered the questionnaire to all medical schools in Turkey. Seventy-nine medical schools participated in this study (response rate: 78%). Results Although most institutions had an undergraduate ethics curriculum (91.1%), the findings suggest deficiency of teaching personnel (34.2% had no instructors). Furthermore, the distribution and composition of the workforce was imbalanced. The content varies largely among institutions. Medical schools with an ethics department were more likely to diversify teaching topics. However, ethics education was largely based on the four-principle approach. The content was usually conveyed to students theoretically. Around 90% of schools had classroom lectures. It is the only method used at one-third of them. Clinical ethics education was mostly lacking. Multiple-choice tests were widely used to assess and evaluate student attainments (86.1%). Conclusions Staff qualified to teach ethics and ethics education integrated into the six-year medical curriculum given by a multidisciplinary team are urgent necessities. Considering teaching, assessment and evaluation methodologies used, most medical schools seem to fall short of fostering students to develop ethical attitudes. Endeavors aiming for modern topics should be encouraged. As the organization ethics education change continuously, we think that a platform for monitoring ethics education at medical schools in Turkey should be established. Such a body would help ethics instructors to network and find solutions to current problems and build shared wisdom.