The Ebola epidemic in Western Africa has highlighted issues related to weak health systems, the politics of drug and vaccine development and the need for transparent and ethical criteria for use of scarce local and global resources during public health emergency. In this paper we explore two key themes. First, we argue that independent of any use of experimental drugs or vaccine interventions, simultaneous implementation of proven public health principles, community engagement and culturally sensitive communication are critical as these measures (...) represent the most cost-effective and fair utilization of available resources. Second, we attempt to clarify the ethical issues related to use of scarce experimental drugs or vaccines and explore in detail the most critical ethical question related to Ebola drug or vaccine distribution in the current outbreak: who among those infected or at risk should be prioritized to receive any new experimental drugs or vaccines? We conclude that healthcare workers should be prioritised for these experimental interventions, for a variety of reasons. (shrink)
Developments in the last several years have sparked renewed interest in the ethics of research involving humans. Issues relating to the global extent of research and its guiding principles are of particular importance to researchers, health officials, and individual ethics committees who want a deeper and more encompassing inquiry regarding the foundation and evolution of human research. This department of CQ launches a long overdue effort to explore these wider issues. Readers are invited to submit papers to Charles MacKay, 5011 (...) Worthington Drive, Bethesda, MD, 20816, USA. E-mail: [email protected]. a. (shrink)
The definition of ‘patient’ is commonly taken for granted and considered as obvious, but the term is rather underconceptualised in the literature. In this paper, it will be argued that the criterion of suffering can be considered a sufficient criterion for a parent to be considered a secondary patient when their seriously ill child is receiving medical care (i.e. not necessarily the parents themselves) – these parents are sufferers in virtue of the suffering of others. The nature of parental and (...) child health and well-being is clearly relational and bidirectional, thus also a bidirectional and relational integration of parental and paediatric patient care is necessary. A genuine expansion of the concept ‘patient’ to parents, both practically and theoretically, can help to bring awareness to the closely intertwining, interacting and interdependent vulnerabilities of both parties, the potential conflicts of interests involved, and also to demand support and reduce hurdles, for example, in reimbursement by health insurers. Treating parents as patients will (1) help the affected child (the primary patient), as unhealthy and/or mentally unstable parents are likely to negatively influence a child's treatment and (2) prevent the parents (the secondary patients) from becoming primary patients themselves due to their suffering because of their child's illness. (shrink)
This article is the result of an international research between law and ethics scholars from Universities in France and Switzerland, who have been closely collaborating with technical experts on the design and use of information and communication technologies in the fields of human health and security. The interdisciplinary approach is a unique feature and guarantees important new insights in the social, ethical and legal implications of these technologies for the individual and society as a whole. Its aim is to shed (...) light on the tension between secrecy and transparency in the digital era. A special focus is put from the perspectives of psychology, medical ethics and European law on the contradiction between individuals’ motivations for consented processing of personal data and their fears about unknown disclosure, transferal and sharing of personal data via information and communication technologies (named the “privacy paradox”). Potential benefits and harms for the individual and society resulting from the use of computers, mobile phones, the Internet and social media are being discussed. Furthermore, the authors point out the ethical and legal limitations inherent to the processing of personal data in a democratic society governed by the rule of law. Finally, they seek to demonstrate that the impact of information and communication technology use on the individuals’ well-being, the latter being closely correlated with a high level of fundamental rights protection in Europe, is a promising feature of the socalled “e-democracy” as a new way to collectively attribute meaning to large-scale online actions, motivations and ideas. (shrink)
Background: Pediatric guidelines recommend that children and adolescents participate in a developmentally appropriate way in end-of-life decision making. Shared decision making in pediatrics is unique because of the triadic relationship of patient, parents, and physician. The involvement of the patient may vary on a continuum from no involvement to being the sole decision maker. However, the effects of child participation have not been thoroughly studied. The aims of this literature review are to identify studies on end-of-life decision making in pediatrics, (...) to explore patient participation, and to assess the effects of such participation. Methods: Five databases—PubMed, PsycInfo, Medline, CINAHL, and Sociological Abstract—were searched for empirical studies on end-of-life decision making in pediatrics. Selected articles fulfilling the criteria were assessed for type of decision, participants’ characteristics, reports on participation of the minor patient, and outcome. Results: Fifty-seven articles on end-of-life decision making in pediatrics were identified. The majority of papers (n = 43, 75%) investigated parents’ and clinicians’ perspectives, while only 14 articles (25%) included perspectives of children and adolescents. Twenty-two articles (39%) reported some details on various forms of children's participation (e.g., receive information, plan care details, consulted before or after a decision was made). Positive (e.g., respect for patient's preferences) and negative (e.g., conflict due to diverging opinions) effects of children's participation in end-of-life decision making were reported. Conclusions: This systematic review highlights the need for research to identify factors that contribute to a favorable participation of minors in decision-making processes, as well as strategies to solve possible conflicts. More research should take into account the dynamics in the triadic process of decision making and emphasize children and adolescents’ perspectives. A better understanding of how to meaningfully involve children and adolescents in end-of-life decision making could facilitate the practice of patient participation in pediatrics. (shrink)
ABSTRACT The Institute of Medicine (IOM) Committee on Ethical Considerations for Revisions to DHHS Regulations for Protection of Prisoners Involved in Research published its report in 2006. It was charged with developing an ethical framework for the conduct of research with prisoners and identifying the safeguards and conditions necessary to ensure that research with prisoners is conducted ethically. The recommendations contained in the IOM report differ from current European regulations in several ways, some being more restrictive and some less so. (...) For example, the IOM report suggests limiting the percentage of prisoners that should be involved in a biomedical study to 50%, a limit that does not exist in Europe. However, the report does not specifically advise against research without a direct benefit to an individual prisoner: the European regulations are more restrictive than the IOM committee recommendations in this respect. The definition of minimal risk varies, as well as the proposed role of the minimal risk requirement and of the principle of subsidiarity (research that can only be done effectively in prisons). The IOM report proposes a number of thoughtful suggestions, which it would be beneficial to implement everywhere, such as registers of research on prisoners. The European regulations offer pragmatic solutions to several thorny issues. In summary, the IOM committee report represents an admirable effort to tackle the present inconsistencies and deficiencies of federal regulations in the US on research on prisoners (45 CFR 46 Subpart C). Nonetheless, before acting on the recommendations, US regulators might consider revisiting international guidelines such as those published by the Council for International Organizations of Medical Science (CIOMS) and the Declaration of Helsinki. (shrink)
Das Buch enthält aktuelle Fallbesprechungen: Zukonkreten Fällen aus dem Feld der Bio- und Medizinethik wird eine kurze Analyse ethischer Aspekte dargestellt, an die sich juristische Kommentare anschließen. Diskutiert werden nicht-klinische Fälle aus Forschungsethik und Ethik in den Lebenswissenschaften sowie Fälle aus der klinischen Praxis in den Bereichen Chirurgie, Intensiv- und Notfallmedizin, genetisches Screening, Allgemeinmedizin, Neurologie, Psychiatrie und innere Medizin.
This volume recognizes and addresses the health care issues of prisoners, to establish best practices and to learn about approaches to these challenges from around the world. It presents new evidence on several emerging and classical prison health issues. The first goal of this volume is to address emerging issues related to health in prison. Second, it presents the most recent research-based evidence and translates it to the practice. The third goal, is that it allows for sufficient diversity while also (...) incorporating updates of some important already recognized prison health. The volume discusses prisons and the life and well-being of prisoners and staff, after growing problems as drug misuse (incl. tobacco smoking), infectious diseases (HIV/AIDS, hepatitis, STIs and TB), psychiatric problems, inadequate and unhealthy living conditions (incl. nutrition), overcrowding of prisons. These are addressed adequately in order to meet the international requirements of equivalence of health care. The scope of this volume is at the same type specific and diverse enough to cover the interests of a large audience that includes many types of practitioners involved in health-related issues in the field of prison health care, such as psychologists, nurses and prison administration officers responsible for health care, legal professionals and social workers. (shrink)
Elger splendidly describes the evolving global responses---both creative and misguided---to the ethical challenges arising in research using genetic databases and offers thoughtful suggestions for balancing the interests of science and `donors'. As insightful as it is comprehensive, this book is essential reading not only for bioethicists but for anyone who uses, oversees, or simply wants to understand biobanks, which are playing an increasingly essential role in biomedical and epidemiological research. Alexander M. Capron, University of Southern California, USA --.
It is well known that prisoners’ human rights are often violated. In this chapter we examine whether guidelines can be effective in preventing such violations and in helping physicians resolve the significant conflicts of interest that they often face in trying to protect prisoners’ rights. We begin by explaining the role of clinical and ethical guidelines outside prisons, in the context of healthcare for non-incarcerated prisoners, and then the specific role of such guidelines within prisons, where the main concerns are (...) ensuring respect for the principle of equivalence of care, and for a prisoner patient’s autonomy in health care decisions. After reviewing and analysing various national and international guidelines, we review the literature and assess whether the good practices set out in these guidelines actually translate into changes in professional behaviour and consequent benefits for prisoners. It emerges that physicians both outside and within prisons tend to be insufficiently familiar with the relevant guidelines, and that they too infrequently use the guidance to make decisions, preferring instead to use personal codes of conduct. Guidelines designed specifically for the prison context are important to ensure equivalence of care and should be better known by health care personnel and other professional groups working in prison. Further guidelines should be developed that describe challenging situations and provide concrete guidance as to how to deal with them. (shrink)
The importance of medical confidentiality is obvious to anyone who has ever been a patient, and protecting private information about patients is one of the key responsibilities of healthcare professionals. However, maintaining the confidentiality of patients who are incarcerated in prisons poses several ethical challenges. In this chapter we explain the importance of confidentiality in general, and the dilemmas that sometimes face doctors with regard to it, before describing some of the specific difficulties faced by prison doctors. Although healthcare professionals (...) working in prisons have the same duty to respect confidentiality as those working in the wider community, the conflicts of interest caused by their dual loyalty to prisoners and to prison authorities can make it very difficult to strike the right balance between respecting confidentiality and protecting prisoners and third parties. We illustrate some of the dilemmas facing prison doctors with a series of case discussions before providing suggestions for resolving these difficult situations. Ideally, a combination of great ethical and legal sensitivity on the part of healthcare professionals and general respect for prisoners’ rights on the part of other prison staff enables most issues to be resolved without the need to compromise patients’ confidentiality. (shrink)
The primacy in modern medical ethics of the principle of respect for autonomy has led to the widespread assumption that it is unethical to change someone’s beliefs, because doing so would constitute coercion or paternalism., In this Viewpoint we suggest that persuasion is not necessarily paternalistic and is an essential component of modern medical practice.
Obtaining informed consent from patients is a moral and legal duty and, thus, a key legitimation for medical treatment. The pivotal prerequisite for valid informed consent is decision-making capacity of the patient. Related to the question of whether and when consent should be morally and legally valid, there has been a long-lasting philosophical debate about freedom of will and the connection of freedom and responsibility. The scholarly discussion on decision-making capacity and its clinical evaluation does not sufficiently take into account (...) this fundamental debate. It is contended that the notion of free will must be reflected when evaluating decision-making capacity. Namely, it should be included as a part of the appreciation-criterion for decision-making capacity. The argumentation is mainly drawn on the compatibilism of Harry Frankfurt. A solution is proposed which at the same time takes the notion of free will seriously and enriches the traditional understanding of decision-making capacity, strengthening its justificatory force while remaining clinically applicable. (shrink)
Problems arise when applying the current procedural conceptualization of decision-making capacity to paediatric healthcare: Its emphasis on content-neutrality and rational cognition as well as its implicit assumption that capacity is an ability that resides within a person jeopardizes children’s position in decision-making. The purpose of the paper is to challenge this dominant account of capacity and provide an alternative for how capacity should be understood in paediatric care. First, the influence of developmental psychologist Jean Piaget upon the notion of capacity (...) is discussed, followed by an examination of Vygostky’s contextualist view on children’s development, which emphasizes social interactions and learning for decision-making capacity. In drawing parallels between autonomy and capacity, substantive approaches to relational autonomy are presented that underline the importance of the content of a decision. The authors then provide a relational reconceptualization of capacity that leads the focus away from the individual to include important social others such as parents and physicians. Within this new approach, the outcome of adults’ decision-making processes is accepted as a guiding factor for a good decision for the child. If the child makes a choice that is not approved by adults, the new conceptualization emphasizes mutual exchange and engagement by both parties. (shrink)
This article examines international and European regulations on research involving prisoners for consensus, differences, and their consequences, and offers a critical evaluation of the various approaches. Agreement exists that prisoners are at risk of coercion, which might interfere with their ability to provide voluntary informed consent to research. Controversy exists about the magnitude of this risk and the consequences that should follow from this risk. Two strategies are proposed for a method of protecting prisoners that does not lead to discrimination: (...) first, more caution to assure non-coerced consent and second, restrictions on the type of research. Most regulations stress the importance of the principle of equivalence of healthcare in places of detention as part of an efficient protection against research risks and discrimination. All the presented approaches have shortcomings. While 'over-use' of prisoners for research as compared to the general population is ethically unjustified, not granting prisoners access to studies beneficial to their own health because of over-strict regulations is equally unjustified. A middle solution should be preferred, one that grants a minimum of protection together with the lowest possible barriers. Research that does not entail a direct benefit for the individual detainee should be restricted to types of research that have a benefit for detainees as a group and that are of low risk. What will ultimately protect prisoners best, while producing the greatest benefit for them, is access to the same healthcare available to members of the community including research as a true option. (shrink)
Vulnerability and politics are among the relevant and key topics of discussion in the Ethiopian healthcare context. Attempts by the formal bioethics structure in Ethiopia to deliberate on ethical issues relating to vulnerability and politics in healthcare have been limited, even though the informal analysis of bioethical issues has been present in traditional Ethiopian communities. This is reflected in religion, social values, and local moral underpinnings. Thus, the aim of this paper is to discuss the bioethical implications of vulnerability and (...) politics for healthcare in Ethiopia and to suggest possible ways forward. First, we will briefly introduce what has been done to develop bioethics as a field in Ethiopia and what gaps remain concerning its implementation in healthcare practice. This will give a context for our second and main task – analyzing the healthcare challenges in relation to vulnerability and politics and discussing their bioethical implications. In doing so, and since these two concepts are intrinsically broad, we demarcate their scope by focusing on specific issues such as poverty, gender, health governance, and armed conflicts. Lastly, we provide suggestions for the ways forward. (shrink)
ABSTRACT The objective of the study was to identify future lawyers’ and physicians’ views on testing children for Huntington’s disease (HD) against parents’ wishes. After receiving general information about HD, patient autonomy and confidentiality, law students and advanced medical students were shown an interview with a mother suffering from HD who is opposed to informing and testing her two children (aged 10 and 16) for HD. Students then filled out questionnaires concerning their agreement with testing. No significant differences were found (...) between medical and law students or between students from different courses concerning the adolescent son. Three quarters of students thought that he should be told about his mother’s disease, and 91% thought the adolescent son should have the opportunity of genetic testing for HD for himself. However, significant differences were found concerning the 10‐year old son, with 44% of law students and 30% of medical students in favour of testing the child for HD. Students raised some important ethical issues in their elective comments. In conclusion, we found highly positive attitudes towards informing a 16‐year old of his mother’s HD and offering to test him. These attitudes were not in tune with guidelines. Students did not consider several practical and ethical issues of genetic testing of children and adolescents. Specific education should ensure that attitudes are based on sufficiently detailed knowledge about all aspects of genetic testing of children to discourage pressures on persons at risk of HD. (shrink)
ver since the traditional criteria for medical decision-making capacity (understanding, appreciation, reasoning, evidencing a choice) were formulated, they have been criticized for not taking sufficient account of emotions or values that seem, according to the critics and in line with clinical experiences, essential to decision-making capacity. The aim of this paper is to provide a nuanced and structured overview of the arguments provided in the literature emphasizing the importance of these factors and arguing for their inclusion in competence evaluations. Moreover, (...) a broader reflection on the findings of the literature is provided. Specific difficulties of formulating and measuring emotional and valuational factors are discussed inviting reflection on the possibility of handling relevant factors in a more flexible, case-specific, and context-specific way rather than adhering to a rigid set of operationalized criteria. (shrink)
BackgroundEvaluation of decision-making capacity to consent to medical treatment has proved to be difficult in patients with dementia. Studies showed that physicians are often insufficiently trained in the evaluation of decision-making capacity. In this study, we present findings from a secondary analysis of a qualitative interviews with physicians. These interviews were initially used to assess usability of an instrument for the evaluation of decision-making capacity. By looking at difficult cases of decision-making capacity evaluation in patients with dementia, we provide recommendations (...) for such evaluations in clinical practice.MethodsWe used thematic coding to analyse physicians’ narratives of problematic decision-making capacity evaluations in patients with dementia to uncover challenging issues of decision-making capacity evaluation.ResultsIn this study, decision-making capacity evaluations in patients with dementia were mainly perceived as challenging when they pertained to treatment refusals and treatment unrelated circumstances, such as psychiatric consultation, advance directives, and new living arrangements. Furthermore, the physicians reported training needs regarding situation-independent challenges with decision-making capacity evaluation.ConclusionsUpon further examining self-reported training needs and challenging cases, we have developed recommendations to improve decision-making capacity evaluations in clinical practice. In these recommendations, we argue that being able to evaluate decision-making capacity is an integral part of the informed consent process. (shrink)
In certain cases of sudden death, forensic experts may discover during an investigation or autopsy that family members of the deceased are also at risk of harm—from genetic disease, for instance. But do they have a duty to warn them? Looking at similar duties of physicians and researchers to warn third parties of risk suggests they do.
The Institute of Medicine (IOM) Committee on Ethical Considerations for Revisions to DHHS Regulations for Protection of Prisoners Involved in Research published its report in 2006. It was charged with developing an ethical framework for the conduct of research with prisoners and identifying the safeguards and conditions necessary to ensure that research with prisoners is conducted ethically. The recommendations contained in the IOM report differ from current European regulations in several ways, some being more restrictive and some less so. For (...) example, the IOM report suggests limiting the percentage of prisoners that should be involved in a biomedical study to 50%, a limit that does not exist in Europe. However, the report does not specifically advise against research without a direct benefit to an individual prisoner: the European regulations are more restrictive than the IOM committee recommendations in this respect. The definition of minimal risk varies, as well as the proposed role of the minimal risk requirement and of the principle of subsidiarity (research that can only be done effectively in prisons). The IOM report proposes a number of thoughtful suggestions, which it would be beneficial to implement everywhere, such as registers of research on prisoners. The European regulations offer pragmatic solutions to several thorny issues. In summary, the IOM committee report represents an admirable effort to tackle the present inconsistencies and deficiencies of federal regulations in the US on research on prisoners (45 CFR 46 Subpart C). Nonetheless, before acting on the recommendations, US regulators might consider revisiting international guidelines such as those published by the Council for International Organizations of Medical Science (CIOMS) and the Declaration of Helsinki. (shrink)
Healthcare cybersecurity is increasingly targeted by malicious hackers. This sector has many vulnerabilities and health data is very sensitive and valuable. Consequently, any damage caused by malicious intrusions is particularly alarming. The consequences of these attacks can be enormous and endanger patient care. Amongst the already-implemented cybersecurity measures and the ones that need to be further improved, this paper aims to demonstrate how penetration tests can greatly benefit healthcare cybersecurity. It is already proven that this approach has enforced cybersecurity in (...) other sectors. However, it is not popular in healthcare since many prejudices still surround the hacking practice and there is a lack of education on hackers’ categories and their ethics. The present analysis aims to comprehend what hacker ethics is and who ethical hackers are. Currently, hacker ethics has the status of personal ethics; however, to employ penetration testers in healthcare, it is recommended to draft an official code of ethics, comprising principles, standards, expectations, and best practices. Additionally, it is important to distinguish between malicious hackers and ethical hackers. Amongst the latter, penetration testers are only a sub-category. Acknowledging the subtle differences between ethical hackers and penetration testers allows to better understand why and how the latter can offer their services to healthcare facilities. (shrink)
Background: With multiple options available today to become a parent, how does the matter of genetic relatedness factor into adolescent cancer patients’ fertility preservation decision making? This study reports on and normatively analyzes this aspect of FP decision making. Methods: A convenience sample of Israeli adolescent cancer survivors and their parents were invited to participate in individual, semi-structured interviews. Results: In discussing the importance of genetic relatedness to future children or grandchildren, participants repeatedly brought up the interrelated issues of nature, (...) normalcy, and personal identity. Regardless of preference or ambivalence for genetic relatedness, the majority of participants were aware of alternative parenting options and noted both their advantages and disadvantages. However, knowledge of alternative parenting options was not uniform. Conclusions: To ensure that adolescent patients and their parents make informed FP decisions that meet their personal goals and values, it is important for physicians to discuss alternative parenting options with them in a culturally sensitive manner. Greater credence also should be given to those who question the importance of genetic relatedness. (shrink)
Biobanks are vital for diagnostic, epidemiological and research purposes following radiation disasters, but there is a history of delays in this type of research and specifically in setting up important resources including tissue repositories following the rare occurrence of these events. Here, we argue that one key lesson from Chernobyl and Fukushima has still not been learned: it is essential to agree on a proactive international plan for a radiation disaster biobank and accompanying data collection before the next disaster occurs.
In recent years, discussion around memory modification interventions has gained attention. However, discussion around the use of memory interventions in the criminal justice system has been mostly absent. In this paper we start by highlighting the importance memory has for human well-being and personal identity, as well as its role within the criminal forensic setting; in particular, for claiming and accepting legal responsibility, for moral learning, and for retribution. We provide examples of memory interventions that are currently available for medical (...) purposes, but that in the future could be used in the forensic setting to modify criminal offenders’ memories. In this section we contrast the cases of dampening and enhancing memories of criminal offenders. We then present from a pragmatic approach some pressing ethical issues associated with these types of memory interventions. The paper ends up highlighting how these pragmatic considerations can help establish ethically justified criteria regarding the possibility of interventions aimed at modifying criminal offenders’ memories. (shrink)
Aim: While there is widespread agreement on the broad aspects of what constitutes a biobank, there is much disagreement regarding the precise definition. This research aimed to describe and analyse the definitions of the term biobank offered by various stakeholders in biobanking. Methods: Interviews were conducted with 36 biobanking stakeholders with international experience currently working in Switzerland. Results: The results show that, in addition to the core concepts of biological samples and linked data, the planned use of samples (including sharing) (...) is held to be a key criterion. It also emerges that some researchers avoid the term in order to circumvent certain regulatory guidelines, including informed consent requirements. Conclusion: Developments in the field of biobanking will be complicated if researchers are unaware, or deny that their collection is a biobank. A clear definition of the term is therefore an important step towards fostering collaboration amongst researchers, enabling them to more easily identify potential sources of samples. (shrink)
The fiduciary nature of the patient-physician relationship requires clinicians to act in the best interest of their patients. Patients are vulnerable due to their health status and lack of medical knowledge, which makes them dependent on the clinicians’ expertise. Competent patients, however, may reject the recommendations of their physician, either refusing beneficial medical interventions or procedures based on their personal views that do not match the perceived medical indication. In some instances, the patients’ refusal may jeopardize their health or life (...) but also compromise the clinician’s moral responsibility to promote the patient’s best interests. In other words, health professionals have to deal with patients whose behavior and healthcare decisions seem counterproductive for their health, or even deteriorate it, because of lack of knowledge, bad habits or bias without being the patients’ free voluntary choice. The moral dilemma centers on issues surrounding the limits of the patient’s autonomy and the clinician’s role to promote the well-being of the patient. In this paper we argue that the use of manipulative strategies, albeit considered beneficent, defeats the purpose of patient education and therefore should be rejected; and the appropriate strategy is to empower patients through patient education which enhances their autonomy and encourages them to become full healthcare partners as opposed to objects of clinical intervention or entities whose values or attitudes need to be shaped and changed through education. First, we provide a working definition of the concept of patient education and a brief historical overview of its origin. Second, we examine the nature of the patient-physician relationship in order to delineate its boundaries, essential for understanding the role of education in the clinical context. Third, we argue that patient education should promote self-rebiasing, enhance autonomy, and empower patients to determine their therapeutic goals. Finally, we develop a moral framework for patient education. (shrink)
A new Swiss law requires that any research involving humans must aim to answer "a relevant research question". This paper explains the relevance of the relevance criterion in research, analyses the Swiss and British guidelines on relevance, and proposes a framework for researchers and REC members that enables a clearer conception of the role of relevance in research. We conclude that research must be either scientifically or societally beneficial in order to qualify as relevant, and RECs therefore cannot avoid reviewing (...) the scientific aspects of proposed studies. Normally only scientifically relevant studies can be of benefit to society, but research of low scientific relevance can nonetheless be relevant to society if it forms part of the education of new doctors and scientists. (shrink)
Precision medicine is an emerging approach to individualized care. It aims to help physicians better comprehend and predict the needs of their patients while effectively adopting in a timely manner the most suitable treatment by promoting the sharing of health data and the implementation of learning healthcare systems. Alongside its promises, PM also entails the risk of exacerbating healthcare inequalities, in particular between ethnoracial groups. One often-neglected underlying reason why this might happen is the impact of structural racism on PM (...) initiatives. Raising awareness as to how structural racism can influence PM initiatives is paramount to avoid that PM ends up reproducing the pre-existing health inequalities between different ethnoracial groups and contributing to the loss of trust in healthcare by minority groups. We analyse three nodes of a process flow where structural racism can affect PM’s implementation. These are: the collection of biased health data during the initial encounter of minority groups with the healthcare system and researchers, the integration of biased health data for minority groups in PM initiatives and the influence of structural racism on the deliverables of PM initiatives for minority groups. We underscore that underappreciation of structural racism by stakeholders involved in the PM ecosystem can be at odds with the ambition of ensuring social and racial justice. Potential specific actions related to the analysed nodes are then formulated to help ensure that PM truly adheres to the goal of leaving no one behind, as endorsed by member states of the United Nations for the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Structural racism has been entrenched in our societies for centuries and it would be naïve to believe that its impacts will not spill over in the era of PM. PM initiatives need to pay special attention to the discriminatory and harmful impacts that structural racism could have on minority groups involved in their respective projects. It is only by acknowledging and discussing the existence of implicit racial biases and trust issues in healthcare and research domains that proper interventions to remedy them can be implemented. (shrink)
In the future, policies surrounding end-of-life decisions will be faced with the question of whether competent people in a completely locked-in state should be enabled to make end-of-life decisions via brain-computer interfaces (BCI). This article raises ethical issues with acting through BCIs in the context of these decisions, specifically self-administration requirements within assisted suicide policies. We argue that enabling patients to end their life even once they have entered completely locked-in state might, paradoxically, prolong and uphold their quality of life.
Background: Multi-collaborator research is increasingly becoming the norm in the field of biomedicine. With this trend comes the imperative to award recognition to all those who contribute to a study; however, there is a gap in the current “gold standard” in authorship guidelines with regards to the efforts of those who provide high quality biosamples and data, yet do not play a role in the intellectual development of the final publication. -/- Methods and findings: We carried out interviews with 36 (...) individuals working in, or with links to, biobanks in Switzerland, in order to understand how they interpret, apply and value authorship criteria in studies involving biosamples. The majority of respondents feel that authorship is an important motivating factor in working and publishing collaboratively. However, our findings suggest that in some cases, authorship guidelines are being ignored in favor of departmental standards which recognize “scientific work” as meriting authorship. -/- Conclusions: Our results support the current calls in the literature for an alternative method of crediting biomaterial contributions, in order to ensure appropriate authorship inclusion and promote collaborative research involving biobanks. (shrink)
This paper addresses psychological factors that might interfere with informed consent on the part of stable patients as potential early-phase clinical trial participants. Thirty-six semistructured interviews with patients who had either diabetes or gout were conducted. We investigated stable patients’ attitudes towards participating in a fictitious first-in-human trial of a novel intervention. We focused on an in-depth analysis of those statements and explanations that indicated the existence of psychological factors impairing decision-making capacity. Three main themes emerged: insufficient comprehension of the (...) inherent logic of clinical trials, the recourse to trust over comprehension, and visceral factors that override deliberative process. Overall, our results indicate a limited psychological capacity on the part of stable patients to meet the requirements of informed consent as set by Declaration of Helsinki. A redesigned informed consent procedure should take account of these psychological realities. (shrink)
In this paper we focus on how automated vehicles can reduce the number of deaths and injuries in accident situations in order to protect public health. This is actually a problem not only of public health and ethics, but also of big data—not only in terms of all the different data that could be used to inform such decisions, but also in the sense of deciding how wide the scope of data should be. We identify three key different types of (...) data, including basic data, advanced data and preference data, provide an ethical analysis of the use of these different types of data and of different ways of prioritizing between pedestrians and passengers, and propose four rules that can help set ethical priorities for ethical data use and decision making by automated vehicles. (shrink)
Health care in prison and particularly the health care of older prisoners are increasingly important topics due to the growth of the ageing prisoner population. The aim of this paper is to gain insight into the approaches used in the provision of equivalent health care to ageing prisoners and to confront the intuitive definition of equivalent care and the practical and ethical challenges that have been experienced by individuals working in this field. Forty interviews took place with experts working in (...) the prison setting from three Western European countries to discover their views on prison health care. Experts indicated that the provision of equivalent care in prison is difficult mostly due to four factors: variability of care in different prisons, gatekeeper systems, lack of personnel, and delays in providing access. This lack of equivalence can be fixed by allocating adequate budgets and developing standards for health care in prison. (shrink)
The ability to exchange samples and data is crucial for the rapidly growth of biobanking. However, sharing is based on the assumption that the donor has given consent to a given use of her or his sample. Biobanking stakeholders, therefore, must choose 1 of 3 options: obtain general consent enabling multiple future uses before taking a sample from the donor, try to obtain consent again before sharing a previously obtained sample, or look for a legally endorsed way to share a (...) sample without the donor's consent. In this study, we present the results of 36 semistructured qualitative interviews with Swiss biobanking stakeholders regarding these options and the role of ethics committees in the process of authorizing sharing. Our results show that despite a lack of legal or guideline-based barriers to general consent, some stakeholders and ethics committees have reservations about this method of consent. In most cases, however, a general consent form is already in use. Many interviewees describe processes involving the ethics committees as time-consuming and cumbersome and their requirements as too demanding for donors/patients. Greater awareness of donors' opinions and preferences and the content of guidelines and recommendations could therefore be helpful for a better justified perspective of biobanking stakeholders and ethical committee members, equally. Finally, it may be necessary to differentiate between procedures governing future samples, where general consent is clearly desirable, and the use of old yet still relevant samples, where the option of using them without consent can be highly beneficial for research. (shrink)
The increasing integration of Machine Learning (ML) techniques into clinical care, driven in particular by Deep Learning (DL) using Artificial Neural Nets (ANNs), promises to reshape medical practice on various levels and across multiple medical fields. Much recent literature examines the ethical consequences of employing ML within medical and psychiatric practice but the potential impact on psychiatric diagnostic systems has so far not been well-developed. In this article, we aim to explore the challenges that arise from the recent use of (...) ANNs for the old problems of psychiatric nosology. To enable an empirically supported critical reflection on the topic, we conducted semi-structured qualitative interviews with Swiss and German experts in computational psychiatry. Here, we report our findings structured around two themes, namely (1) the possibility of using ML for defining or refining of psychiatric classification, and (2) the desirability of employing ML for psychiatric nosology. We discuss these themes by relating them to recent debates about network theory for psychiatric nosology and show why empirical research in the field should critically reflect on its contribution to psychopathology research. In sum, we argue that beyond technical, regulatory, and ethical challenges, philosophical reflection is crucial to harness the potential of ML in psychiatry. (shrink)
Biobanks are essential tools for furthering a broad range of medical research areas. However, despite the plethora of national and international laws and guidelines which apply to them, the access and sharing policies of biobanks are only sparsely addressed by regulatory bodies. The ‘give and take’ process of biosample sharing is largely left up to biobank stakeholders themselves to oversee; it is therefore both in stakeholders' power, and in their interest, to ensure that sample accessibility is fair. This is an (...) important step in motivating researchers to collaborate and pool samples, and is crucial to fostering trust in the absence of universally accepted standard practices. To date, little attention has been paid to how fairness considerations affect scientific material sharing, and no empirical research has been carried out to determine the role that fairness plays in collaborative studies. In order to begin to gain understanding in this area, we interviewed 36 biobank stakeholders currently working in Switzerland, focusing on their perceptions of current and optimal fair sharing practices. Our findings reveal that fairness is an important feature of exchange situations for these stakeholders, and that they have well-formed notions about the practical elements of fair sample access, although ideas about the concept of fairness itself are vague. In order to support efforts to network biobanks, attention should be paid to this issue to reassure all involved that they are getting a fair share in their cooperative efforts. (shrink)
While the implementation of digital technology in psychiatry appears promising, there is an urgent need to address the implications of the absence of ethical design in the early development of such technologies. Some authors have noted the gap between technology development and ethical analysis and have called for an upstream examination of the ethical issues raised by digital technologies. In this paper, we address this suggestion, particularly in relation to digital healthcare technologies for patients with schizophrenia spectrum disorders. The introduction (...) of digital technologies in psychiatry offers a broad spectrum of diagnostic and treatment options tailored to the health needs and goals of patients’ care. These technologies include wearable devices, smartphone applications for high-immersive virtual realities, smart homes, telepsychiatry and messaging systems for patients in rural areas. The availability of these technologies could increase access to mental health services and improve the diagnostics of mental disorders.Additional Instruction AbstractIn this descriptive review, we systematize ethical concerns about digital technologies for mental health with a particular focus on individuals suffering from schizophrenia. There are many unsolved dilemmas and conflicts of interest in the implementation of these technologies, such as (1) the lack of evidence on efficacy and impact on self-perception; (2) the lack of clear standards for the safety of their daily implementation; (3) unclear roles of technology and a shift in the responsibilities of all parties; (4) no guarantee of data confidentiality; and (5) the lack of a user-centered design that meets the particular needs of patients with schizophrenia. mHealth can improve care in psychiatry and make mental healthcare services more efficient and personalized while destigmatizing mental health disorders. To ensure that these technologies will benefit people with mental health disorders, we need to heighten sensitivity to ethical issues among mental healthcare specialists, health policy makers, software developers, patients themselves and their proxies. Additionally, we need to develop frameworks for furthering sustainable development in the digital technologies industry and for the responsible usage of such technologies for patients with schizophrenia in the clinical setting. We suggest that digital technology in psychiatry, particularly for schizophrenia and other serious mental health disorders, should be integrated into treatment with professional supervision rather than as a self-treatment tool. (shrink)
Nanotechnology, which involves manipulation of matter on a ‘nano’ scale, is considered to be a key enabling technology. Medical applications of nanotechnology are expected to significantly improve disease diagnostic and therapeutic modalities and subsequently reduce health care costs. However, there is no consensus on the definition of nanotechnology or nanomedicine, and this stems from the underlying debate on defining ‘nano’. This paper aims to present the diversity in the definition of nanomedicine and its impact on the translation of basic science (...) research in nanotechnology into clinical applications. We present the insights obtained from exploratory qualitative interviews with 46 stakeholders involved in translational nanomedicine from Europe and North America. The definition of nanomedicine has implications for many aspects of translational research including: fund allocation, patents, drug regulatory review processes and approvals, ethical review processes, clinical trials and public acceptance. Given the interdisciplinary nature of the field and common interest in developing effective clinical applications, it is important to have honest and transparent communication about nanomedicine, its benefits and potential harm. A clear and consistent definition of nanomedicine would significantly facilitate trust among various stakeholders including the general public while minimizing the risk of miscommunication and undue fear of nanotechnology and nanomedicine. (shrink)