BackgroundThere has been no in-depth research of public attitudes on withholding or withdrawing life-prolonging treatment, euthanasia, assisted suicide and physician assisted suicide in Croatia. The aim of this study was to examine these attitudes and their correlation with sociodemographic characteristics, religion, political orientation, tolerance of personal choice, trust in physicians, health status, experiences with death and caring for the seriously ill, and attitudes towards death and dying. MethodsA cross-sectional study was conducted on a three-stage random sample of adult citizens of (...) the Republic of Croatia, stratified by regions, counties, and locations within those counties. In addition to descriptive statistics, ANOVA and Chi-square tests were used to determine differences, and factor analysis, correlation analysis and multiple regression analysis for data analysis.Results38.1% of the respondents agree with granting the wishes of dying people experiencing extreme and unbearable suffering, and withholding life-prolonging treatment, and 37.8% agree with respecting the wishes of such people, and withdrawing life-prolonging treatment. 77% of respondents think that withholding and withdrawing procedures should be regulated by law because of the fear of abuse. Opinions about the practice and regulation of euthanasia are divided. Those who are younger and middle-aged, with higher levels of education, living in big cities, and who have a more liberal worldview are more open to euthanasia. Assisted suicide is not considered to be an acceptable practice, with only 18.6% of respondents agreeing with it. However, 40.1% think that physician assisted suicide should be legalised. 51.6% would support the dying person’s autonomous decisions regarding end-of-life procedures.ConclusionsThe study found low levels of acceptance of withholding or withdrawing life-prolonging treatment, euthanasia, assisted suicide and physician assisted suicide in Croatia. In addition, it found evidence that age, level of education, political orientation, and place of residence have an impact on people’s views on euthanasia. There is a need for further research into attitudes on different end-of-life practices in Croatia. (shrink)
Clinical ethics committees (CECs) have been developing in many countries since the 1980s, more recently in the transitional countries in Eastern Europe. With their increasing profile they are now faced with a range of questions and challenges regarding their position within the health care organizations in which they are situated: Should CECs be independent bodies with a critical role towards institutional management, or should they be an integral part of the hospital organization? In this paper, we discuss the organizational context (...) in which CECs function in Europe focusing on five aspects. We conclude that in Europe clinical ethics committees need to maintain a critical independence while generating acceptance of the CEC and its potential benefit to both individuals and the organization. CECs, perhaps particularly in transitional countries, must counter the charge of “alibi ethics”. CECs must define their contribution to in-house quality management in their respective health care organization, clarifying how ethical reflection on various levels serves the hospital and patient care in general. This last challenge is made more difficult by lack of consensus about appropriate quality outcomes for CECs internationally. These are daunting challenges, but the fact that CECs continue to develop suggests that we should make the effort to overcome them. We believe there is a need for further research that specifically addresses some of the institutional challenges facing CECs. (shrink)
In this article, the question is discussed if and how Healthcare Ethics Committees (HECs) should be regulated. The paper consists of two parts. First, authors from eight EC member countries describe the status quo in their respective countries, and give reasons as to the form of regulation they consider most adequate. In the second part, the country reports are analysed. It is suggested that regulation of HECs should be central and weak. Central regulation is argued to be apt to improve (...) HECs’ accountability, relevance and comparability. To facilitate biomedical citizenship and ethical reflection, regulation should at the same time be weak rather than strict. Independence of HECs to deliberate about ethical questions, and to give solicited and unsolicited advice, should be supported and only interfered with by way of exception. One exception is when circumstances become temporary adversarial to ethical deliberation in healthcare institutions. In view of European unification, steps should be taken to develop consistent policies for both Eastern and Western European countries. (shrink)
Healthcare professionals working in intensive care units are often involved in end-of-life decision-making. No research has been done so far about these processes taking place in Croatian ICUs. The aim of this study was to investigate the perceptions, experiences, and challenges healthcare professionals face when dealing with end-of-life decisions in ICUs in Croatia. A qualitative study was performed using professionally homogenous focus groups of ICU nurses and physicians of diverse professional and clinical backgrounds at three research sites. In total, six (...) institutions at the tertiary level of healthcare were included. The constant comparative analysis method was used in the analysis of the data. Differences were found between the perceptions and experiences of nurses and physicians in relation to end-of-life decisions. Nurses’ perceptions were more focused on the context and features of immediate care, while physicians’ perceptions also included the wider sociocultural context. However, the critical issues these specific professional groups face when dealing with end-of-life decisions seem to overlap. A high variability of practices, both between individual practitioners and between different organizational units, was omnipresent. The lack of adequate legal, professional, and clinical guidelines was commonly expressed as one of the most critical source of difficulties. (shrink)
As Croatia makes the transition from one political system and type of economy to another, there are inevitable social and political changes that have a profound affect on the healthcare system. This article charts some of the progress of change with respect to patients’ rights and informed consent.
BackgroundDecisions about limitations of life sustaining treatments are made for end-of-life patients in intensive care units. The aim of this research was to explore the professional and ethical attitudes and experiences of medical professionals on treatment of end-of-life patients in ICUs in the Republic of Croatia.MethodsA cross-sectional study was conducted among physicians and nurses working in surgical, medical, neurological, and multidisciplinary ICUs in the total of 9 hospitals throughout Croatia using a questionnaire with closed and open type questions. Exploratory factor (...) analysis was conducted to reduce data to a smaller set of summary variables. Mann–Whitney U test was used to analyse the differences between two groups and Kruskal–Wallis tests were used to analyse the differences between more than two groups.ResultsLess than third of participants stated they were included in the decision-making process, and physicians are much more included than nurses. Sixty two percent of participants stated that the decision-making process took place between physicians. Eighteen percent of participants stated that ‘do-not-attempt cardiopulmonary resuscitations’ orders were frequently made in their ICUs. A decision to withdraw inotropes and antibiotics was frequently made as stated by 22.4% and 19.9% of participants, respectively. Withholding/withdrawing of LST were ethically acceptable to 64.2% of participants. Thirty seven percent of participants thought there was a significant difference between withholding and withdrawing LST from an ethical standpoint. Seventy-nine percent of participants stated that a verbal or written decision made by a capable patient should be respected. Physicians were more inclined to respect patient’s wishes then nurses with high school education. Nurses were more included in the decision-making process in neurological than in surgical, medical, or multidisciplinary ICUs. Male participants in comparison to female, and physicians in comparison to nurses with high school and college education displayed more liberal attitudes about LST limitation.ConclusionsDNACPR orders are not commonly made in Croatian ICUs, even though limitations of LST were found ethically acceptable by most of the participants. Attitudes of paternalistic and conservative nature were expected considering Croatia’s geographical location in Southern Europe. (shrink)
Background Past studies emphasized the possible cultural influence on attitudes regarding reprogenetics and reproductive risks among medical students who are taken to be “future physicians.” These studies were crafted in order to enhance the knowledge and expand the boundaries of cultural competence. Yet such studies were focused on MS from relatively marginalized cultures, namely either from non-Western developing countries or minority groups in developed countries. The current study sheds light on possible cultural influences of the dominant culture on medical students (...) in two developed countries, potentially with different dominant cultures regarding reprogenetics and reproductive risks: Israel and Croatia. Methods Quantitative-statistical analyses were employed, based on anonymous questionnaires completed by 150 first year medical students in Israel and Croatia. The questionnaires pertained to the knowledge and attitudes regarding genetics, reproduction and reproductive risks. These questionnaires were completed before the students were engaged in learning about these topics as part of the curriculum in their medical school. Results Substantial differences were revealed between the two groups of medical students. Israeli medical students were less tolerant regarding reproductive risks and more knowledgeable about genetics and reproductive risks than Croatian medical students. For example, while nearly all Israeli medical students disagreed with the idea that “Screening for reproductive risks in prospective parents is wrong,” less than 40% of their Croatian counterparts shared a similar stance. Similarly, all Israeli medical students correctly observed that “A carrier of a recessive genetic disease actually has the disease” was wrong, as opposed to only 82% of Croatian students. Conclusions By linking applicable theoretical literature to these findings, we suggest that they may reflect the hidden influence of the dominant culture in each country, disguised as part of the “culture of medicine.” Acknowledging and learning about such influence of the dominant culture, may be an important addition to the training of medical students in cultural competence, and specifically their cultural awareness. Such an acknowledgement may also pave the road to drawing the attention of existing physicians regarding a less known yet an important aspect of their cultural competence, insofar as the cultural awareness component is concerned. (shrink)
In Croatia, the subject of medical ethics, or bioethics, was introduced into the curriculum in the early 1990s at the medical schools of the University of Rijeka and the University of Zagreb. Today, bioethics education has become a basic part of undergraduate medical education not only in Rijeka and Zagreb but also in Osijek.