Several challenging ethical issues have been associated with the shift to managed healthcare in the United States. Our objective was to develop, implement, and evaluate a curriculum designed to help physicians identify and examine ethical issues encountered in the managed care setting. The curriculum was developed during a year-long workshop at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center. The content of the curriculum was established through literature review, focus group discussions with physicians, and a needs assessment of targeted learners (primary care physicians practicing in managed care settings). Some of the key issues addressed in the curriculum include: changing professional responsibilities of physicians; fair use of resources; and threats to the doctor-patient relationship as a consequence of the new healthcare delivery system. The 7.5-h curriculum was taught over five sessions using varied teaching methods. Evaluations demonstrated that the curriculum was successful in increasing learner awareness of ethical issues confronted in the managed care environment and improved learner knowledge in these areas. The physician-learners reported that this educational experience would change their teaching of medical students and residents. After completing the curriculum, learners felt that they were at least somewhat better able to cope with ethical challenges encountered in the managed care setting. Future research might examine whether such a curriculum could positively affect physician behavior or enhance physician satisfaction with the managed care setting.
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