Virtue and care ethics and humanism in medical education:

A scoping review

Abstract: This scoping review explores how virtue and care ethics are incorporated into health professions education and how these factors may relate to the development of humanistic patient care.


Our team identified citations in the literature emphasizing virtue ethics and care ethics (in PubMed, NLM Catalog, WorldCat, EthicsShare, EthxWeb,, Philosopher’s Index, and ProQuest Central) lending themselves to constructs of humanism curricula. Our exclusion criteria consisted of non-English articles, those not addressing virtue and care ethics and humanism in medical pedagogy, and those not addressing aspects of character in health ethics. We examined in a stepwise fashion whether citations: 1) Contained definitions of virtue and care ethics; 2) Implemented virtue and care ethics in health care curricula; and 3) Evidenced patient-directed caregiver humanism.


Eight hundred eleven citations were identified, 88 intensively reviewed, and the final 25 analyzed in-depth. We identified multiple key themes with relevant metaphors associated with virtue/care ethics, curricula, and humanism education.


This research sought to better understand how virtue and care ethics can potentially promote humanism and identified themes that facilitate and impede this mission.

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Doukas, D. J., Ozar, D. T., Darragh, M., De Groot, J. M., Carter, B. S., & Stout, N. (2022). Virtue and care ethics and humanism in medical education: A scoping review. BMC Medical Education22(1), 1-10.