Goals of Clinical Ethics Support: Perceptions of Dutch Healthcare Institutions [Book Review]

Health Care Analysis 21 (4):323-337 (2013)
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In previous literature, ethicists mention several goals of Clinical Ethics Support (CES). It is unknown what key persons in healthcare institutions see as main–—and sub-goals of CES. This article presents the goals of CES as perceived by board members and members of ethics support staff. This is part of a Dutch national research using a mixed methods design with questionnaires, focus groups and interviews. Quantitative and qualitative data were analyzed and combined in an iterative process. Four main clusters of goals were found: 1) encouraging an ethical climate, 2) fostering an accountable and transparent organization, 3) developing professionalism and a final goal, overarching the previous three, 4) good care. Most important sub-goals of CES were: attention for ethical issues, raising awareness of ethical issues, fostering ethical reflection and supporting employees. The article ends with a discussion on the desirability to further operationalize the general goal of good care, the context-boundedness of our findings and the need to relate goals of CES to the features of organizational cultures to further improve the integration of CES in healthcare institutions



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Guy Widdershoven
VU University Amsterdam