The four principles approach (principlism) is widely implemented in medical curricula. However, there is ongoing debate about the "universality" of this approach. A frequent criticism is that principlism reflects Western ideals such as the importance of individual rights. Some Asian scholars have argued that Asian bioethics is essentially different from Western approaches. This paper reports on a qualitative study investigating the impact of "Western-developed" medical ethics teaching on clinical experiences of 40 medical students in Malaysia. Our data suggest the possibility of shared understandings of ethical issues across different cultures. Our research also demonstrates that ethics education can be enhanced by tailoring the content to specific cultural contexts. The debate over the application of the four principles approach is frequently couched as a tension between the acceptance of either universal values or cultural norms. However, student responses suggest that it is possible to mediate between "the universal" and "the particular."
- Bioethics curriculum development
- Cross-cultural bioethics
- Health ethics education
- Medical ethics curriculum