Ethical Considerations of Physician Career Involvement in Global Health Work: A Framework

Lawrence Chew Loh, Sae Rom Chae, Jennifer E. Heckman, Daniel S. Rhee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Examining the ethics of long-term, career involvement by physicians in global health work is vital, given growing professional interest and potential health implications for communities abroad. However, current literature remains heavily focused on ethical considerations of short-term global health training experiences. A literature review informed our development of an ethics framework centered on two perspectives: the practitioner perspective, further subdivided into extrinsic and intrinsic factors, and community perspectives, specifically that of the host community and the physician’s home community. Some physician factors included cultural/linguistic differences, power imbalances, and sustainable skills/competencies. Receiving community factors included resource limitations, standard of care disparities, and community autonomy. Home community factors focused on the opportunity cost of an unavailable physician who was trained and supported by the local community. Descriptive review permitted comparison with existing short-term literature, noting similarities and differences. Our framework provides a basis for further research and critical analysis of ethical implications of career-long physician global health work.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)129-136
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Bioethical Inquiry
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1 2015



  • Career choice
  • International cooperation
  • Medical ethics
  • World health

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Health Policy

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