The Moral, Ethical, Personal, and Professional Challenges Faced by Physicians during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Krzysztof Goniewicz, Mariusz Goniewicz, Anna Włoszczak-Szubzda, Dorota Lasota, Frederick M. Burkle, Marta Borowska-Stefańska, Szymon Wiśniewski, Amir Khorram-Manesh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The COVID-19 pandemic, apart from the main problems concerning the health and life of patients, sparked a discussion about physicians’ moral and social professional attitudes. During a pandemic, physicians have the same ethical, moral, and medical responsibilities, however, the situation is different since they are self-exposed to a danger, which may influence their willingness to work. The problem of the professional moral attitudes of health care workers, recurring in ethical discussions, prompts us to define the limits of the duties of physicians in the event of a pandemic, hence this research aimed to assess these duties from an ethical perspective and to define their boundaries and scope. The study was conducted in May and June 2020 in the city of Lublin, covering all medical centers, and the questionnaire was completed by 549 physicians. The research was conducted in four areas: emergency standby in the event of a disaster, even if it is not requested; willingness to work overtime in the event of a disaster, even without payment; willingness to take health risks by caring for people who are infectious or exposed to hazardous substances; readiness to be transferred to other departments in the event of a disaster. Although most of the respondents declared to be agreed on personal sacrifices in the performance of professional duties, they were not prepared for a high level of personal risk when working in a pandemic. Excessive workload, its overwhelming nature, and personal risk are not conducive to readiness to work overtime, especially without pay. Research shows how important it is to respect the rights and interests of all parties involved in a pandemic. Physicians’ duty to care for a patient is also conditioned by the duty to protect themselves and should not be a tool for intimidating and depersonalizing their social and professional lives.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number5641
JournalInternational journal of environmental research and public health
Issue number9
StatePublished - May 1 2022


  • COVID-19
  • ethics
  • physician
  • professional attitude

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Pollution
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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