Bioethics in Italian Medical and Healthcare Education. A Pilot Study.

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Matteo Gulino
Sara Patuzzo
Ilaria Baldelli
Valentina Gazzaniga
Domenico Franco Merlo
Lucia Maiorana
Giovanni Murialdo
Mario Picozzi
Giuseppe Armocida
Paolo Cattorini
Elena Montaguti
Stefano Bonometti
Alessandra Agnese Grossi http://orcid.org/0000-0002-2352-6756
Francesco De Stefano
Rosagemma Ciliberti

Keywords

Bioethics; Medical and Health Curricula; Teaching of Bioethics; Medical Education; Teaching.

Abstract

Background and aim of the work: Bioethics is relevant in healthcare and medical schools. However, unlike other foreign countries, its teaching in Italy has only been recently introduced, it is less extensively offered and no academic standards for bioethics education have been established. This research aims at understanding whether university bioethics courses attendees appreciate and consider teaching strategies to be effective with the objective of validating a coherent didactic approach to the discipline and stimulate further discussion on ways to improve it. Methods: A standardized survey was administered to 1590 students attending undergraduate degree programs in medicine and healthcare at four Italian universities. Results: The majority of interviewees (92.5%) had an interest in bioethics, considered it to be important for any life-sciences-related program (73.5%) and most healthcare (77.2%) and medical students (69.2%) suggested its teaching should be included in their curricula and made mandatory (66.3%) and continuous (57.7%), given its usefulness in clinical practice. Students consider bioethics as a care-integrated practice and appreciate teaching methods where it is integrated into clinical cases. Conceptual specificity and interdisciplinarity may affect the learning process and contribute to enhance students’ analytical skills. Conclusions: Italian bioethics education should be revised to meet students’ expectations and preferences. Its complex, multi-disciplinary and transversal nature suggests bioethical education to be flexible and integrated among different disciplines, thus stimulating a broader critical capacity through cases studies and other interactive teaching methods for helping students better deal with bioethics-inherent difficulties and improve the learning process.

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