Community Mental Health Journal

, Volume 41, Issue 1, pp 21-33

First online:

Ethical Considerations in Rural Health Care: A Pilot Study of Clinicians in Alaska and New Mexico

  • Teddy D. WarnerAffiliated withDepartment of Family and Community Medicine, University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center Institute for Ethics, University of New Mexico, Medical College of Wisconsin, University of Alaska Anchorage, Medical College of Wisconsin, University of New Mexico Email author 
  • , Pamela Monaghan-GeernaertAffiliated withUniversity of New Mexico
  • , John BattagliaAffiliated withMedical College of Wisconsin
  • , Christiane BremsAffiliated withUniversity of Alaska Anchorage
  • , Mark E. JohnsonAffiliated withUniversity of Alaska Anchorage
  • , Laura Weiss RobertsAffiliated withMedical College of Wisconsin

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To investigate differences in the experiences of rural versus non-rural clinicians, we surveyed caregivers in New Mexico and Alaska regarding ethical aspects of care provision. Consistent with past literature, rural compared to non-rural clinicians perceived patients as having less access to health care resources. They reported more interaction with patients and less awkwardness in relationships with their patients outside of work. Rural clinicians also reported their patients expressed more concern about knowing them in both personal and professional roles, had more concerns over confidentiality, and experienced more embarrassment concerning stigmatizing illnesses. Ethical issues and implications of these results for providing care in rural areas are discussed.


rural ethics health care confidentiality stigma