A qualitative study on patients' selection in the scarcity of resources in the COVID‐19 pandemic in a communal culture

Developing World Bioethics (forthcoming)
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Abstract

The scarcity of resources during the COVID‐19 pandemic caused ethical dilemmas in prioritizing patients for treatment. Medical and ethical guidance only emphasizes clinical procedures but does not consider the sociocultural aspect. This study explored the perception of former COVID‐19 patients and their families on the decision‐making process of the patient's selection at a time of scarcity of resources. The result will inform the development of an ethical guide for allocating scarce resources that aligns with Indonesian culture. We conducted qualitative research with in‐depth interviews between May ‐ December 2022 involving sixteen participants from various cities in Indonesia. We transcribed the interviews and analyzed the results using thematic analysis. This study found that doctor's decisions often differed from patient's expectations in allocating scarce resources, and therefore, it should be communicated appropriately. Medical decisions were not sufficiently made ethically, but must also be made communicatively. In Indonesia's strong communal culture, community involvement was essential to distributing limited resources. A better approach to ethical education, including adequate communication skills, is necessary to prepare health professionals for facing unpredictable future pandemics.

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