Ethical Bearing Is about Our Conduct: Ethics as an Essential Component of Military Interprofessional Healthcare Teams

Holly S. Meyer, Karlen S. Bader-Larsen, Anthony Artino, Lara Varpio

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Introduction: The need to maintain medical ethical standards during conflict and peace has been the source of considerable academic discourse. Although still an unsolved challenge, scholars have made significant contributions to the literature, constructing categorizations that can help military providers contend with ethical conflicts. However, insights into the ethical comportment of military interprofessional healthcare teams (MIHTs) have yet to be reported. Materials and Methods: This interview-based study collected insights from 30 military healthcare providers who participated in and/or led MIHTs. Altogether, participants represented 11 health professions, both officers and enlisted military members, and the U.S. Army, Navy, and Air Force. Following Grounded Theory methodology, data were collected and analyzed in iterative cycles until theme saturation was reached. Results: The research team identified two themes of ethical bearing that enable MIHT success in and across care contexts. One theme of successful ethical bearing is "raising concerns,"referring to speaking up when something needs to be addressed. The other is "making compromises,"where individuals have to make sacrifices (e.g., lack of equipment, non-sterile environment, etc.) to give patient care. Conclusions: These data suggest that effective MIHTs have a collective moral compass. This moral compass is the team's ability to judge what is ethically right and wrong, as well as the team's willingness and ability to act accordingly - to consistently "do the right thing."There is a collective moral compass, and while the team may not all agree on what exactly is true north - they are all bending that way.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)23-28
Number of pages6
JournalMilitary Medicine
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2021
Externally publishedYes


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