Ethical Dilemmas: Comparison of Taiwanese Versus Korean Students in Making Decisions

Wing P. Chan, Tsuen-Chiuan Tsai, Kyu-Han Kim, Ting-Yu Wu, Kyu-Chang Wang, Chii-Ruey Tzeng

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: This study compared the perception of common ethical dilemmas by intern students in Taiwan versus Korean in making ethical decisions. Methods: The study protocol was approved by our Institutional Review Board, and signed informed consent was obtained from all participants. We surveyed 133 Korean medical intern students (KI) when they visited our university for a cross-cultural joint conference in Taiwan. The same survey was delivered to 146 intern students from our university (TI) without knowledge of each others' data. Five ethical dilemmas were delivered to all participants. Subjects were asked to determine the best decision to solve ethical dilemmas. In this study, two similar case scenarios (breaking bad news and telling the truth) were selected for convenience and then compared, analyzed and described. Results: A total of 125 KI (93.9%) and 102 TI (69.9%) students responded to our survey. Similar decision-making was noted in both scenarios across two groups. Our results suggested that more than half (50 to 60%) of the KI and TI choose to disclose the bad news to patients if they were asked; 50 to 60% KI and TI would report the medical errors to the "patient safety committee" in their hospitals, respectively. This was three-fold higher than the second choice answer of conveying bad news due to the relative's request or to protect the caregiver without disclosing error, respectively. Conclusion: TI and KI students have similar perception and decision-making on common ethical issues. Similar cultural and educational background may underlie this similarity.
Original languageUndefined/Unknown
Pages (from-to)154-163
Number of pages10
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • breaking bad news
  • ethics
  • Korea
  • Taiwan
  • truth telling

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