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Ethical attitudes of ICU physicians in Hong Kong


Medical practice in HK is based on Western principles. However, most local doctors and patients are Chinese with a strong Chinese cultural and religious background. This study explores the practice and ethical attitudes of ICU doctors in HK, using a structured questionnaire modified from recent European ethical questionnaires [1,2].


Of 90 questionnaires distributed to 12 ICUs in HK, 65(72%) were returned.

In HK, 99% of physicians would sometimes withhold and 89% sometimes withdraw therapy from patients with no chance of recovery, compared to 93 and 77% in Europe. More respondents in HK involved patients and/or families in decision making (83% compared to 49%, P < 0.001).


Although demographically different, the ethical behavior and attitudes of ICU doctors in HK and Europe are similar. HK doctors involve families more often in the discussion of end-of-life issues.

Table ICU admission limited by bed availability (% of respondents)
Table ICU admission for patients with poor prognosis or poor quality of life (% respondents)
Table Application and discussion of DNR orders (% of respondents)


  1. Intensive Care Med 1990, 16: 256-264. 10.1007/BF01705162

  2. Crit Care Med 1999, 27: 1626-1633. 10.1097/00003246-199908000-00042

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Yap, F., Joynt, G. Ethical attitudes of ICU physicians in Hong Kong. Crit Care 6 (Suppl 1), P253 (2002).

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