Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy 13 (3):215-223 (2010)

Guy Widdershoven
VU University Amsterdam
The goal of this article is to augment the ethical discussion among nurses with the findings from empirical research on autonomy of older adults with type 2 diabetes mellitus. There are many factors influencing autonomy. These include: health conditions, treatment, knowledge, experience and skills, personal approach as well as familial patterns, type of relationship, life history and social context. Fifteen older adults with type 2 diabetes mellitus were interviewed in a nurse-led diabetes clinic. These participants perceive three processes which support autonomy in responsive relationships: preserving patterns of concern and interaction, nurturing collaborative responsibilities and being closely engaged in trustful and helpful family relations. People with diabetes realize autonomy in various responsive relationships in their unique life context. Next, we performed a literature review of care ethics and caring in nursing with regard to relational autonomy. We classified the literature in five strands of care: attitude-oriented, dialogue-oriented, activity-oriented, relationship-oriented and life-oriented. According to our respondents, autonomy in responsive relationships is fostered when patient, nurses, professionals of the health team and family members carry out care activities supported by a relational attitude of care. They can best realize autonomy in relationships with others when several essential aspects of care and caring are present in their lives. Therefore, we advocate a comprehensive approach to care and caring
Keywords Caring activity  Caring attitude  Care ethics  Nurse-led clinic  Patient’s perspective  Relational autonomy  Responsive relationships
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DOI 10.1007/s11019-010-9241-8
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