Exercise prescription and the doctor’s duty of non-maleficence
Pugh, Jonathan D
Pugh, Christopher J. A.
BMJ Publishing Group
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An abundance of data unequivocally demonstrates that exercise can be an effective tool in the fight against obesity and its associated comorbidities.1 Indeed, physical activity can be more effective than widely used pharmaceutical interventions. While metformin reduces the incidence of diabetes by 31% (as compared with a placebo) in both men and women across different racial and ethnic groups, lifestyle intervention (including exercise) reduces the incidence by 58%.2 In this context, it is notable that a group of prominent medics and exercise scientists recently sent a well-publicised letter to the General Medical Council (GMC) and Medical Schools Council calling for the introduction of evidence-based lifestyle education into all medical curricula.3 The letter warns that there is a lack of understanding of the impact that exercise and nutrition can have on physical health among doctors. In the absence of an educational overhaul, the signatories warn that the government is likely to fail to reach its goal of preventing tens of thousands of premature deaths from heart disease and cancer by 2020. While we agree with the need to address this apparent lack of understanding, the ethical justification of doing so is not limited to this broadly beneficence-based justification. There is also a justification grounded in the duty of non-maleficence, that is, the duty to avoid unreasonable harm to patients.
British Journal of Sports Medicine;
Pugh, J., Pugh, C. and Savulescu, J. (2017) 'Exercise prescription and the doctor’s duty of non-maleficence', British Journal of Sports Medicine. doi:10.1136/bjsports-2016-097388
This article was published in British Journal of Sports Medicine online first on 29 March 2017, available at http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bjsports-2016-097388
Cardiff Metropolitan University (Grant ID: Cardiff Metropolian (Internal))
- Sport Research Groups 
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