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The Honesty and Ethics of Medical Professions


Americans consistently rate doctors, nurses and pharmacists as the most honest and ethical of professions.

Americans have very high opinions about the honesty and ethics about those in medical professions and have for years, according to a Gallup poll.

Since 1976, Gallup has been asking Americans to rate the honesty and ethics of numerous professions with answers of very high, high, average, low and very low. Three medical professions topped this list this year: nurses, pharmacists and doctors.

Since nurses were included in the list in 1999, they have consistently topped it. The only exception was in 2001 when firefighters were included to measure support after 9/11. Only 1% rated nurses’ honesty and ethics as low or very low. In the years before nurses were added to the list, pharmacists topped it for eight years.

This year 84% rated the honesty and ethics of nurses as very high or high. This year 70% of Americans rated doctors highly — in 1976 they only had 76% — and 73% rated pharmacists highly.

However not everyone in the health industry is considered honest and ethical. There were some jobs not asked about in 2011 that were use in the past, and some fared better than others.

Nursing home operators only rated in the 20s during the four years that the job was included in the list, and had the worst percent for those in care. Chiropractors weren’t considered very ethical or honest either. The highest percent vote of confidence the field got was 36%, but was as low as 26% in 1999.

Perhaps because people are at their most vulnerable with psychiatrists they don’t believe them to be very honest. In 2004 and 2006 only 38% said their honesty was very high or high, but in 2009 only 33% felt that way.

Lastly, dentists were considered fairly honest and ethical, with more than 50% always putting their honest at very high or high.

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