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16.03.2016 | Original Article | Ausgabe 3/2016

Journal of Public Health 3/2016

Genetics in the medical and psychosocial practice: on the role of value hierarchies in counselling

Journal of Public Health > Ausgabe 3/2016
Brigitte Gschmeidler, Magdalena Flatscher-Thöni, Elke Knitel-Grabher
Wichtige Hinweise
An erratum to this article is available at http://​dx.​doi.​org/​10.​1007/​s10389-017-0807-2.



Values and value hierarchies play an important role in different health and counselling settings. Since personal values underlie our actions, guide our decisions and influence interactions, they can be assumed to influence doctor-patient relationships and therefore especially counselling situations. The aim of our study is to provide a sound empirical contribution to the increasing literature on values in health care settings.

Subject and methods

This article focusses on the personal values of professional groups involved in the medical and psychosocial care of patients or clients with genetic concerns. Results from 120 survey respondents who completed the Schwartz value survey reveal differences between the professional groups in their value hierarchies.


There is a widespread, pan-cultural similarity regarding value hierarchies. Our results are in accordance with this universal hierarchy but show slight differences between the professional groups of the sample: Medical professionals ranked achievement and power values significantly higher. Psychosocial professionals, on the other hand, ranked universalism and hedonism values significantly higher than medical professionals.


Values motivate actions and serve as standards to evaluate them. As they can be presumed to influence the doctor-patient relationship and health care decisions, it is worth discussing differences in values and value hierarchies. Particular attention to that topic might be of interest for training and further education.

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