The practice of defensive medicine among physicians in the United Arab Emirates: A clinician survey

Shamsa Al Awar, Teodora Elena Ucenic, Hassan Elbiss

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Defensive medicine, a term known since the 1960s, may lead to risks in healthcare provision. Reported to be prevalent in North America and Europe, it is thought to be spreading globally. This study aims to evaluate defensive medicine practice among physicians in the United Arab Emirates. A quantitative cross-sectional survey consisting of a twenty-three point questionnaire was conducted after obtaining ethics approval. The response data concerning the practice of defensive medicine were summarized as a percentage of the total. There were 562 respondents. Of these, 307 (54.6%) and 258 (45.9%) were aware of positive and negative defensive medicine practice respectively. Of the respondents, 285 (50.7%) agreed that they feared patients or their attendants and 177 (31.5%) were not willing to accept patients involved in previous legal prosecutions against doctors. Case referral to other colleagues as a form of defensive medicine was reported by 186 (31.1%) respondents. The majority, 339 (60.3%) of the respondents thought that their medical decisions were backed by the hospital's managerial staff. The practice of defensive medicine is common among physicians working in the United Arab Emirates. It is a widespread practicing behavior in respondents who have more than fifteen years of working experience as compared to those with less experience.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)E34701
JournalMedicine (United States)
Issue number34
Publication statusPublished - Aug 25 2023


  • United Arab Emirates
  • defensive medicine
  • medical litigation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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