Date of Defense


Date of Graduation



Health, Physical Education, and Recreation (to 2011)

First Advisor

David Paul

Second Advisor

Susan Weinger


cultural conflict, medicine, biomedical ethics, autonomy, paternalism


In today’s society filled with globalization and mass movement of people and ideas, there is an ever present question of how each individual society fits into the overall culture of a diversified country such as the United States. The idea of the US as a melting pot has triggered the inability to create a “one size fits all” style of living. In terms of medicine, westernized practices are typically accepted in a majority of the world. However, conflicting traditional practices as well as religious beliefs are still present in some areas of the world as well as in the US itself. These minority cultures living in the US are faced with extreme turmoil and conflict when their personal beliefs do not match those held by those who are providing medical treatment.

Through the debate of consequentialist versus deontological schools of thought, paternalism versus individual autonomy and the concepts presented in ethics for medical professionals, this thesis will seek to establish a balance of all medical and cultural values in order to provide the highest level of care possible. An analysis of not only the ethical principles, but also their implications on the overall issue of multicultural tolerance in medicine beg the question to what extent can medical professionals be tolerant of minority views . The cases of Lia Lee, Robyn Twitchell, Mr. Begay and Stamford Hospital vs. Vega provide insight into how the medical system has dealt with these issues in the past. Meanwhile, explanations of multicultural communication theories and how they apply in the medical environment offer some solution to this moral dilemma.

Access Setting

Honors Thesis-Open Access