Values are complex constituents of our everyday lives. For our purposes, they exist at three levels:
Foundational values more
Committed beliefs more
Systems and enactments more
The foundational status of the most basic values provides justification for medical and health services, and for the huge expenditure of monetary and human capital that they demand. Obvious though it may seem, understanding values in this way is essential to an appreciation of the importance of health services and explains why we spend so much on maintaining and improving them, and why they demand such high ethical standards. Because norms and axioms differ, as do cultural expectations and practices, medical practice in a pluralist society is a complicated undertaking.
The Values in Medicine website provides a summary of the themes that emerged from interviews with doctors associated with the Sydney Medical School. Prominent among their concerns were the management of the doctor-patient relationship, the use of their expert knowledge and their approach to decision-making in the best interests of their patients. They described ethical quandaries, the virtuous behaviour of colleagues and ways of improving justice and equity in health care. From all of these concerns they drew conclusions about how medical education might be improved. A review of the literature on each of these themes has led to the creation of this website as a resource for students and researchers.