Altruism revisited: A comparison of medical, law and business students' altruistic attitudes

Journal Article

By: I; Wilkes Coulter, M; Der-Martirosian, C
Publication Name: Med Educ
Year: 2007

Objective Although the concept of altruism in medicine has a long tradition in Western thought, little empirical research has been carried out recently in this area. This study compares the altruistic attitudes of medical, legal and business students. Methods We used a cross-sectional survey to compare the altruistic attitudes of 3 types of contemporary 'professional' students, those in medicine, law and business. Results The results suggest that medical students report more altruistic attitudes than legal students, but not than business students. Overall, female students reported stronger attitudes consistent with altruism compared with males; African-American and Hispanic students reported more altruistic attitudes compared with White students. Conclusions Our results suggest that the recent trend in recruiting more women and under-represented minority group members into medicine may have a positive impact on altruism in the profession, if we can assume that attitudes correlate with behaviours.

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