Are guidelines ethical? Some considerations for general practice

Wendy A. Rogers*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)


Guidelines have been promoted in various roles in general practice, e.g. to improve quality of care, to assist patient decision making, and to improve resource allocation. This paper examines these claims using ethical analysis. Guidelines may help general practitioners to act for the good of their patients and avoid harm; but, on their own, guidelines cannot ensure quality of care or the protection of patients' interests. Patient choice may be limited rather than enhanced by following guideline recommendations. Guidelines contribute to rationing of resources but do not use explicit criteria for this. The ethical implications for guideline use are complex and far-reaching.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)663-668
Number of pages6
JournalBritish Journal of General Practice
Issue number481
Publication statusPublished - 2002
Externally publishedYes


  • Ethics
  • Evidence-based medicine
  • Guidelines


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