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Cynicism as a strategic virtue

Rose, Arthur; Duschinsky, Robbie; Macnaughton, Jane

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Arthur Rose

Robbie Duschinsky


Doctors are often forced to negotiate between imperatives of policy and the demands of good practice. Cynicism arises in the welter of difficult feelings elicited by such contexts, and is widely assumed to be bad for patients, national health systems, and for the clinicians themselves. Cynicism is typically regarded as a cause of distrust, professional misconduct, and a pathway to burnout. It is true that untempered cynicism can have these consequences. However, much of the cynicism seen in contemporary health care is not untempered, nor is it simply negative or unprofessional behaviour. Rather than simply the shrivelled hope of good practice, we argue that more balanced forms of cynicism can support rather than undermine quality of care.

Journal Article Type Article
Online Publication Date Feb 17, 2017
Publication Date Feb 18, 2017
Deposit Date May 25, 2017
Publicly Available Date Oct 31, 2017
Journal The Lancet
Print ISSN 0140-6736
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 389
Issue 10070
Pages 692-693
Public URL
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