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Trusting Doctors
The Decline of Moral Authority in American Medicine
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For more than a century, the American medical profession insisted that doctors be rigorously trained in medical science and dedicated to professional ethics. Patients revered their doctors as representatives of a sacred vocation. Do we still trust doctors with the same conviction? In Trusting Doctors, Jonathan Imber attributes the development of patients' faith in doctors to the inspiration and influence of Protestant and Catholic clergymen during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. He explains that as the influence of clergymen waned, and as reliance on medical technology increased, patients' trust in doctors steadily declined. Trusting Doctors discusses the emphasis that Protestant clergymen placed on the physician's vocation; the focus that Catholic moralists put on specific dilemmas faced in daily medical practice; and the loss of unchallenged authority experienced by doctors after World War II, when practitioners became valued for their technical competence rather than their personal integrity. Imber shows how the clergy gradually lost their impact in defining the physician's moral character, and how vocal critics of medicine contributed to a decline in patient confidence. The author argues that as modern medicine becomes defined by specialization, rapid medical advance, profit-driven industry, and ever more anxious patients, the future for a renewed trust in doctors will be confronted by even greater challenges. Trusting Doctors provides valuable insights into the religious underpinnings of the doctor-patient relationship and raises critical questions about the ultimate place of the medical profession in American life and culture.


Preface: A Sociological Perspective xiIntroduction xviiPart One: Religious Foundations of Trust in MedicineChapter 1: Protestantism, Piety, and Professionalism 3Chapter 2: The Infl uence of Catholic Perspectives 22Chapter 3: The Scientifi c Challenge to Faith 43Chapter 4: Public Health, Public Trust, and the Professionalization of Medicine 65Part Two: Beyond the Golden Age of Trust in MedicineChapter 5: The Growth of Popular Distrust in Medicine 107Chapter 6: The Evolution of Bioethics 130Chapter 7: Anxiety in the Age of Epidemiology 144Chapter 8: Trust and Mortality 167Acknowledgments 197Appendix 1: Extant Addresses, Sermons, and Eulogies by Clergymen 201Appendix 2: Philadelphia Medical Sermons 208Appendix 3: Long Island College Hospital Commencements, 1860-1899 210Notes 213Index 265


ISBN-13: 9781400828890
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Publication date: August, 2015
Pages: 280

Subcategories: Ethics, General Issues, General Practice