Oshionwu EJ, Nwose EU (2019) Altruism: Brief Review of Current Opinions and Implications on Community Emergency Medicine. Int J Crit Care Emerg Med 5:066.


© 2019 Oshionwu EJ, et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

COMMENTARY | OPEN ACCESSDOI: 10.23937/2474-3674/1510066

Altruism: Brief Review of Current Opinions and Implications on Community Emergency Medicine

Oshionwu EJ1 and Nwose EU2, 3*

1Standards Compliance Coordinator, California Health Care Facility, USA

2V/Professor, Novena University, Nigeria

3School of Community Health, Charles Sturt University, Australia


There are several theories on altruism including the concept of pseudo-altruism. The latter constitute divergent opinion around egoism and socioeconomic status (SES). Review has identified that the conflict between altruistic and pseudo-altruistic theoretical approaches can be resolved by combining elements from both concepts. The objective of this commentary is to advance (1) That there is 'benefit to the helping altruistic individual in all altruism theories; and (2) A unifying viewpoint in terms of benefit that while every altruistic act is an adaptive humanitarian behaviour that benefits another person who is primarily the beneficiary, the benefactor always has a benefit that is secondary. Thus, every genuine act of altruism can be easily erroneously deconstructed and reconstructed as pseudo-altruism, which disparages the benefactor and undermines the primary benefit. SES is associated with altruism, and the concept of socioeconomic inequalities in healthcare delivery is alluded to be a reflection of degeneration of altruistic behaviour in society. The famous Good Samaritan story is empirically reviewed to translate altruistic response of individuals of higher SES compared to those of lower counterpart in community health. The implications for health of individuals at the family level, and community-level emergency is briefly espoused. The correlation to current medical practice regarding treating patients with or without health insurance is drawn. A classical workplace experience is also presented to illustrate the current state of intimidation that influences altruism in contemporary healthcare practice.