Information disclosure to family caregivers: Applying Thiroux's framework

Nursing Ethics 17 (4):435-444 (2010)
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In the UK, community care has led to more complex relationships for mental health nurses. They need to respect the rights of service users to confidentiality while also respecting the rights of family caregivers to information that directly affects them. An unsatisfactory situation has arisen in which utilitarian and legally driven motives have seen family caregivers’ interests become subsidiary to those of service users and providers. An ethical case is made for sharing information with family caregivers, even against the wishes of service users. Through the use of a conceptual framework based on elements proposed by Thiroux — value of life, goodness or rightness, justice or fairness, truth-telling or honesty, and individual freedom — the article concludes that there is an ethical argument for sharing some information with family caregivers and that nurses should respect caregivers’ rights through their actions. Nurses’ actions are a commitment to seeking what is ‘good’ by making judgements based on what matters. It is argued that people and their relationships matter more than strict adherence to laws and codes



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