Bioethics Blogs

Moral Distress Amongst American Physician Trainees Regarding Futile Treatments at the End of Life

Elizabeth Dzeng and colleagues have just published “Moral Distress Amongst American Physician Trainees Regarding Futile Treatments at the End of Life: A Qualitative Study” in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.

“Physician trainees experienced significant moral distress when they felt obligated to provide treatments at or near the end of life that they believed to be futile.”  The words used include

  • Torture
  • Gruesome
  • Abuse
  • Mutilate
  • Cruel


“Some trainees developed detached and dehumanizing attitudes towards patients as a coping mechanism, which may contribute to a loss of empathy. Successful coping strategies included formal and informal conversations with colleagues and superiors about the emotional and ethical challenges of providing care at the end of life.”

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.