Engagement without entanglement: A framework for non-sexual patient-physician boundaries

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5 Scopus citations


The integrity of the patient-physician relationship depends on maintaining professional boundaries. While ethicists and professional organisations have devoted significant consideration to the subject of sexual boundary transgressions, the subject of non-sexual boundaries, especially outside the mental health setting, has been largely neglected. While professional organisations may offer guidance on specific subjects, such as accepting gifts or treating relatives, as well as general guidance on transparency and conflict of interest, what is missing is a principle-based method that providers can use to assess non-sexual interactions with patients that transcend norms of practice. This paper attempts to offer an operational model for such assessment that considers not only the traditional emphasis on beneficence, but also incorporates concerns over entanglement and concordance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)383-388
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Medical Ethics
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1 Jun 2023


  • ethics
  • professional misconduct
  • professional-professional relationship


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