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Medical Ethics |

Shaping Patients’ Decisions

J. S. Swindell, PhD; Amy L. McGuire, JD, PhD; Scott D. Halpern, MD, PhD
Author and Funding Information

From the Center for Medical Ethics and Health Policy (Drs Swindell and McGuire), Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX; and the Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, Center for Bioethics, Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics, and Center for Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics (Dr Halpern), University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Philadelphia, PA.

Correspondence to: J. S. Swindell, PhD, One Baylor Plaza, MS 420, Houston, TX 77030-4311; e-mail: jsswinde@bcm.edu


For editorial comment see page 243

Funding/Support: Drs Halpern and McGuire are supported by a Greenwall Foundation Faculty Scholar Award in Bioethics.

Editor’s note: To view articles included in the core curriculum of the ongoing Medical Ethics series, visit http://chestjournal.chestpubs.org/cgi/collection/medethics.—Constantine A. Manthous, MD, FCCP, Section Editor, Medical Ethics

Reproduction of this article is prohibited without written permission from the American College of Chest Physicians (http://www.chestpubs.org/site/misc/reprints.xhtml).


© 2011 American College of Chest Physicians


Chest. 2011;139(2):424-429. doi:10.1378/chest.10-0605
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Many physicians struggle to strike an acceptable balance between respecting patient autonomy and guiding patients’ decisions toward what is in their best interests based on their expressed values and long-term goals. Over the past 40 years, the ethical principle of respect for autonomy has gained primacy in Western medicine, but judgments about the appropriate dose of influence on patient decisions have been clouded by misconceptions about patient autonomy. In this article, we consider three such misconceptions with the goal of helping physicians to optimally promote their patients’ interests.


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