Stress fractures : ethics and the provision of sports medicine at the elite level in New Zealand
Author(s)Anderson, Lynley Carol
KeywordsNew Zealand contracts
Australasian College of Sports Physicians Code of Ethics
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AbstractThe provision of medical care to top-level athletes in New Zealand comes with a number of challenging ethical issues. Some of these arise out of the commercial interest present in sport that links sporting success with funding, sponsorship deals and media interest. The requirement that athletes stay at peak physical function in order to be successful can, at times, be at odds with concepts of well-being and good health. The employment structure under which doctors are engaged by teams and the employment contracts which define these relationships can be the source of divided loyalty for doctors. For example, sharing health information beyond the doctor-athlete relationship may be in line with contractual obligations, but at odds with what the athlete requests. Divided loyalties also exist when athletes wish to participate in sport despite high risk of harm. Here there is a difference between what the doctor understands as the athlete’s best interest, and the athlete’s consideration of best interest. This thesis adopts two strategies for examining the area of sports medicine in elite athletes in New Zealand. The first section utilizes qualitative research. Sixteen sports doctors were interviewed and the data analysed. The next section involves normative reflection. Here two issues (where a range of behaviours were exhibited by participants) selected from the data are considered and discussion is presented on how doctors should respond to these issues. An examination of the level of guidance offered to sports doctors from the Australasian College of Sports Physician’s Code of Ethics follows. The level of guidance offered is considered inadequate and the thesis ends with a call to attend to these concerns.