, Volume 19, Issue 1, pp 97-106
Date: 29 Oct 2011

The Ethical Dilemma of Embryonic Stem Cell Research

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Abstract

To determine the knowledge, attitude, and ethical concerns of medical students and graduates with regard to Embryonic Stem Cell (ESC) research. This questionnaire based descriptive study was conducted at the Civil Hospital Karachi (CHK), Pakistan from February to July 2008. A well structured questionnaire was administered to medical students and graduate doctors, which included their demographic profile as well as questions in line with the study objective. Informed consent was taken and full confidentiality was assured to the participants. Data were entered in a Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS version.12) and analyzed. A total of 204 male and 216 female medical students and doctors were administered questionnaires out of which 105 males (51.4%) and 108 females (50%) were aware of the embryonic stem cell research and its ethical implications. Forty percent males and 47% of females were of the opinion that life begins at conception. Forty-six percent males and 39% females were in favor of stem cell research while only 31% males and 28% females supported the ESC research. Less than 1/3 of students supported using frozen embryos for research purposes while more than 2/3 indicated that they were unlikely to support abortion for stem cell research purposes. The majority of the students were in favor of stem cell research with some reservations regarding ESC research. A sizeable number of students withheld their views, reflecting their poor understanding of medical ethics. The result of the study indicates a need for incorporating bioethics into the medical curriculum.