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Business and Professional Ethics Journal

Volume 27, Issue 1/4, 2008

Mette Ebbesen, Birthe D. Pedersen
Pages 75-101

The Role of Ethics in the Daily Work of Oncology Physicians and Molecular Biologists—Results of an Empirical Study

This article presents results from an empirical investigation of the role and importance of ethics in the daily work of Danish oncology physicians and Danish molecular biologists. The study is based on 12 semi-structured interviews with three groups of respondents: a group of oncology physicians working in a clinic at a public hospital and two groups of molecular biologists conducting basic research, one group employed at a public university and the other in a private biopharmaceutical company. We found that oncology physicians consider ethical evaluation as part of their daily work. They discuss how to treat patients in groups and they have interdisciplinary seminars. In contrast, molecular biologists employed at the university do not think that basic research causes significant ethical problems, they do not talk about ethics in their daily work and they do not want to prioritise seminars on ethics. Molecular biologists employed in a private biopharmaceutical company do not think that basic research causes significant ethical problems, but the private company prioritises ethical evaluation. If the company behaves unethical, they will be punished by the consumers and by the investors in the last end. In general, oncology physicians working in the clinic experience a closer relationship between their daily work and ethical problems concerning human beings than molecular biologists conducting basic research.

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