Medical oath: use and relevance of the Declaration of Geneva. A survey of member organizations of the World Medical Association (WMA)


The Declaration of Geneva is one of the core documents of medical ethics. A revision process was started by the World Medical Association (WMA) in 2016. The WMA has also used this occasion to examine how the Declaration of Geneva is used in countries throughout the world by conducting a survey of all WMA constituent members. The findings are highly important and raise urgent questions for the World Medical Association and its National Medical Associations (NMA): The Declaration of Geneva is only rarely used as an oath text despite the fact that physicians’ oaths are generally widespread. This is not consistent with the intention and claim of the Declaration of Geneva. The article then discusses three questions. Should there be one single binding oath? Which organization should be responsible for such an oath? Which oath is the most obvious candidate? In a globalized world and despite all cultural diversity, the medical profession should have one core moral basis which is binding for physicians all over the world. The most obvious candidate for an oath incorporating this moral basis is the Declaration of Geneva.

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Correspondence to Urban Wiesing.

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Rheinsberg, Z., Parsa-Parsi, R., Kloiber, O. et al. Medical oath: use and relevance of the Declaration of Geneva. A survey of member organizations of the World Medical Association (WMA). Med Health Care and Philos 21, 189–196 (2018).

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  • Hippocratic Oath
  • Profession
  • Medical ethic
  • World Medical Association
  • Declaration of Geneva