In this second portion of a two-part interview, Linda L.
Emanuel, MD, PhD, discusses the future of bioethics. Part I highlighted end-of-life care and physician-assisted suicide, while part
II focuses on organizational ethics and future issues in bioethics.
Dr. Emanuel is Buehler Professor of Aging and director of the Buehler Center
on Aging, Northwestern University Medical School. She was formerly vice
president for ethics standards at the American Medical Association (AMA).
Dr. Emanuel has written and lectured widely on bioethics, including editing
the book Regulating How We Die: The Ethical, Medical, and Legal Issues
Surrounding Physician-Assisted Suicide (Harvard University Press, 1998).
Oncology News International: What areas in the medical field are particularly lacking bioethics
Dr. Emanuel: Bioethics needs more empirical research in most of its areas.
Facts matter in bioethics. There really isn’t a field in ethics that has a
very strong body of research of an empirical nature. End-of-life care is the
area in ethics that has the strongest empirical research. There are aspects of
policy that are supported by decent survey research, and some that are
There is beginning to be some ethics research on aspects of clinical
practice that are directed by ethics concepts. There is beginning to be some
empirical work on research integrity, but most of the research is of a
scholarly nature, and there is just so much to be done. Organizational ethics
has a small amount of empirical research, but this is even more embryonic.
ONI: How do you perceive the role of bio-ethicists and bioethics committees
in medicine in general? Do you think this field is going to continue to be more
and more integrated into clinical care? Will it ultimately change the way that
clinical care is aproached and delivered?