When Cultures Clash: Navigating Ethical Disagreements Related to Diversity

July 20–21, 2018

Bell Harbor International Conference Center, Seattle, Washington

2018 ConferenceHealthcare delivery is practiced in an increasingly multicultural context. Patients and their healthcare providers may not share the same cultural and religious belief systems. This may present challenges in coming to a shared understanding of illness, and in negotiating a diagnostic and therapeutic treatment plan that satisfies the ethical constraints of all parties. When a child is the patient and a parent is the surrogate decision-maker, navigating culturally or religiously based disagreements becomes particularly difficult. Commonly accepted ethical principles and practices related to disclosure, truth-telling, confidentiality, fidelity and refusal of important medical care may be challenged by families who hold beliefs that differ from those of the health care provider. Is there room for compromise? When compromise is not possible, whose belief system prevails?

Join us for our 14th annual Pediatric Bioethics Conference, where we will discuss ethical issues raised when patients and healthcare providers come from different belief systems.

  • Should decisions about whether to respect a parent’s refusal to consent to important medical treatment depend on their cultural or religious beliefs or their intent to return to a home country where such treatment is not available?
  • When is it appropriate to withhold a diagnosis from a child or adolescent at the parent’s request?
  • Should a family’s request to see a healthcare provider of a different gender or race be respected?
  • How can healthcare providers balance respect for the beliefs of others while disagreeing with their decisions?
  • Is there a limit to how far a healthcare provider should go to accommodate the needs of those from differing cultures or religions?
  • Should cultural practices that cause small amounts of pain or harm to children be tolerated or reported as child abuse?

Join us for our 14th annual Pediatric Bioethics Conference: When Cultures Clash: Navigating Ethical Disagreements Related to Diversity.


This conference is endorsed by the American Society for Bioethics and Humanities.

Conference Planning Committee

  • Douglas Diekema, MD, MPH, chair
  • Shaquita Bell, MD
  • Tumaini Coker, MD, MBA
  • Kathy Fennell, RN, MPH, MBA
  • Ross Hays, MD
  • Douglas Opel, MD, MPH
  • Emily Rice, MBA
  • Abby Rosenberg, MD, MS, MA
  • Benjamin Wilfond, MD
  • Aaron Wightman, MD, MA