This descriptive study is an attempt to characterize the field known as clinical ethics, with regard to the function of humanities scholars in the clinical setting, e.g., hospitals and ambulatory care clinics. It is not a strict epidemiological study but a qualitative survey, although it reports some empirical data. Most discussions of medical humanities in the literature are conceptual analyses of particular issues, such as informed consent, abortion, confidentiality, etc. Virtually no empirical studies with data on how many clinical ethicists function in what roles and with what educational backgrounds have been reported. This is the first such study of humanities scholars in clinical ethics and will be followed by companion reports of physicians and hospital chaplains who are, by self-report, involved in clinical ethics. This report is an effort to stimulate and encourage dialogue and is in no way definitive. It is a preliminary study, and other needed studies are already underway.
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