The aim of this study was to evaluate how dental students and tutors think about their position for, or against fee reduction at dental offices.
It was a questionnaire-based survey, which examined the ethical attitudes of students and tutors of an Iranian Dental School. The questionnaire included a vignette about an ethical dilemma at a dental office. Different ethical approaches, i.e. duty-based, virtue-oriented and consequentialist arguments, for or against fee reduction at dental office were suggested. Respondents were asked to rank those ethical options. Data was entered and analyzed in SPSS 16.0.
121 dental students and thirty-six faculty members (dental specialists) participated in this study. It revealed that a majority of dental students and tutors (68%) are in favor of charging patients less, when facing an imagined request at dental office, using either virtue-oriented (54%) or consequentialist (14%) argument for fee reduction. The difference between rankings of four options was statistically significant, while no statistically significant difference exists neither between male and female respondents, nor students and tutors.
This case study provides a basis for fruitful discussions in ethics courses for dental students. Our study suggests that financial issues should be considered as a part of ethical training within the dental student's curriculum.