CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 · Avicenna J Med 2013; 03(03): 57-62
DOI: 10.4103/2231-0770.118458

Negative ethical behaviors in Saudi hospitals: How prevalent are they perceived to be? - Statement agreement study

R Fayez
Department of Psychiatry, Armed Forces Hospital, Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
A Nawwab
Medical Student, College of Medicine, King Saud Bin Abdulaziz University for Health Sciences, Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
H Al-Jahdali
Department of Medicine, King Saud Bin Abdulaziz University for Health Sciences, Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
S Baharoon
Department of Medicine, King Saud Bin Abdulaziz University for Health Sciences, Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
S Binsalih
Department of Medicine, King Saud Bin Abdulaziz University for Health Sciences, Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
A Al Sayyari
Department of Medicine, King Saud Bin Abdulaziz University for Health Sciences, Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
› Author Affiliations


Background: There is limited information about the prevalence of unethical behavior and how is perceived among health care providers. The aim of this study is to assess such behavior and how is perceived. Materials and Methods: This is a cross-sectional study among three groups of professionals. Total participants were 370 and included medical staff, medical residents, and nurses in five medical specialties in four tertiary hospitals in Saudi Arabia (two Ministry of Health Hospitals and two military Hospitals). Participants were asked to rate their agreement with occurrence of 15 "negative" unethical behavior scenarios in their workplace. The scenarios covered areas of "respect for persons", "interprofessional relationships," and "empathy with patients". Results: Majority of respondents agreed that "unethical" behavior occurred in their workplace, including confidentiality being compromised (36.3%), informed consent not taken properly (60.2%), and bad news not well-delivered (62.2%). Other significant area agreement included doctors lacking empathy (47.8%), patient autonomy not fully respected (42.5%), discrimination (41.2%), and being pressurized to write inaccurate reports (31.2%). Respondents in medicine had the lowest rate of agreement and those in psychiatry had the highest (mean of 49.8% and 82.3%, respectively). Respondents with length of employment of less than 6 years had significantly higher agreement that unethical behavior occurs compared to those with length of employment of more than 6 years. Males were more likely than females to agree that unethical behavior occurs. The biggest difference was seen in the behavior of "informed consent not properly taken" with a gender margin of 18.7% (P = 0.001). Conclusion: There is high prevalence of behavior that is considered unethical as perceived by various health care workers at Saudi hospitals.

Publication History

Article published online:
09 August 2021

© 2013. Syrian American Medical Society. This is an open access article published by Thieme under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonDerivative-NonCommercial-License, permitting copying and reproduction so long as the original work is given appropriate credit. Contents may not be used for commercial purposes, or adapted, remixed, transformed or built upon. (

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