R.E.S.P.E.C.T.—why doctors are still getting enough of it

BMJ 2002; 324 doi: (Published 05 January 2002) Cite this as: BMJ 2002;324:11
  1. Zosia Kmietovicz
  1. London

    It seems to be something of a hobby for newspapers around the world to hammer the medical profession. You can almost guarantee that wherever you are in the world and whatever newspaper you happen to unfold there will be something inside it about doctors' mistakes, misdemeanours, and mendacity.

    Negative publicity

    So how has this negative publicity affected the public's opinion of the profession? If the media are as powerful as many people believe, the drip, drip of bad news should have resulted in a dive in patients' trust in doctors.

    Yet an inquiry by the BMJ covering seven countries shows that, in most places, respect for doctors is extremely high and has not altered noticeably over the past 10 years. The only exception seems to be Germany, where the pedestal on which doctors have been put remains high—though it is now slightly beneath, rather than above, the clouds.

    Doctors beat priests

    There, doctors are losing some status, although they are still by far the most prestigious profession. In a recent poll they beat their nearest rivals—priests—by nearly 30% with 74% of the public claiming they have the …

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