The unique ethics of sports medicine

Rob Johnson

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


The practice of sports medicine and working with teams at all levels of competition pose distinctive issues and provide challenges to the ethical practice of medicine. These are largely caused by the characteristics of the typical athlete, who above all wants to play. The forces affecting the athlete also change the ethical environment among coaches, parents, agents, the team, and the team's success, exerting pressures unlike those of normal medical practice. If the sports physician appreciates the various influences in sport and competition, he or she can better adhere to ethical principles in the exciting and rewarding, but pressure-packed, practice of sports medicine. Questions that serve as a simple, practical guide to physician conduct in the sports arena are: Will my decision or activity be -to the credit or benefit of the athlete? -to the credit or benefit of sport? -to the credit or benefit of my profession? If the answer to any of these is "no," the decision or activity is probably inappropriate [15]. Recognize your unique role as a team physician/sports physician. Exercise your skills for the benefit of the athlete and sport. Proceed cautiously with regard to the ethical potholes unique to sports medicine.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)175-182
Number of pages8
JournalClinics in Sports Medicine
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2004


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