Bioethics for clinicians: 4. Voluntariness

Edward Etchells, Gilbert Sharpe, Mary Jane Dykeman, Eric M. Meslin, Peter A. Singer

Research output: Contribution to journalShort survey

31 Scopus citations


In the context of consent, 'volutariness' refers to a patients right to make health care choices free of any undue influence. However, a patient's freedom to make choices can be compromised by internal factors such as pain and by external factors such as force, coercion and manipulation. In exceptional circumstances - for example, involuntary admission to hospital - patients may be denied their freedom of choice; in such circumstances the least restrictive means possible of managing the patient should always be preferred. Clinicians can minimize the impact of controlling factors on patients' decisions by promoting awareness of available choices, inviting questions and ensuring that decisions are based on an adequate, unbiased disclosure of the relevant information.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1083-1086
Number of pages4
Issue number8
StatePublished - Nov 6 1996

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)

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    Etchells, E., Sharpe, G., Dykeman, M. J., Meslin, E. M., & Singer, P. A. (1996). Bioethics for clinicians: 4. Voluntariness. CMAJ, 155(8), 1083-1086.