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The Relationship Between Ethical Dilemma Discussion and Moral Development (Galley)

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David A. Latif


American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education

Vol. 64, No. 2 (2000)
DOI: aj640204.pdf




American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy


The present investigation examines the relationship between ethical dilemma discussion and moral development of ninety-six second-year students taking a required communications course at a large northeastern school of pharmacy. An additional objective was to assess the efficacy of moral reasoning skills by testing the relationship between pharmacy students' moral development and their perceptions regarding the difficulty of resolving ethical problems commonly found in pharmacy practice. Moral development has been demonstrated to be of consequence to professional behaviors such as clinical decision-making in health professionals. Rest's Defining Issues Test (DIT) was used as a surrogate measure of a student's moral reasoning. One hundred and nine students were administered the DIT at the beginning of the semester in which they took a required communications course, and again at the end of the semester. Of these, ninety-six protocols were deemed usable. A paired t-test revealed that students scored significantly higher on the post-test than on the pre-test. In addition, those students at higher levels of moral reasoning perceived as significantly less problematic common ethical dilemmas faced by practicing pharmacists. The study concludes that moral reasoning skills are both teachable and measurable, and that ethical dilemma case discussions may enhance moral development.

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