Three arguments are given to show that neural constructivism lacks an essential ingredient to explain cognitive development. Based on results in the theory of adaptive signal analysis, adaptive biological pattern information and self-organization in nonlinear systems of information processing, it is concluded that neural constructivism should be further extended to accommodate the occurrence of phase transitions generating qualitative development in the sense of Piaget.
The way students perceive a learning climate (e.g. controlling or stimulating) is significantly influenced by feedback and assessment. However, at present much is unclear about the relation between feedback and motivational state. More specifically, the interplay with student characteristics is unclear. Since there is a strong increase of group work, the central research question is what are the effects of positive, neutral or negative feedback presented to collaborating teams of students, on students? intrinsic motivation, performance and on group processes? One (...) hundred thirty?eight higher education students participated in this study. There were no significant differences in performance across conditions. Multi?level analysis enabled a detailed comparison between groups and individual members of groups. Amongst others, it was found that feelings of competence facilitate the effect of positive feedback at the group level, which suggests that positive feedback boosts interest especially in groups of highly competent students. (shrink)
Introduction: In The Netherlands, physicians have to be convinced that the patient suffers unbearably and hopelessly before granting a request for euthanasia. The extent to which general practitioners (GPs), consulted physicians and members of the euthanasia review committees judge this criterion similarly was evaluated. Methods: 300 GPs, 150 consultants and 27 members of review committees were sent a questionnaire with patient descriptions. Besides a “standard case” of a patient with physical suffering and limited life expectancy, the descriptions included cases in (...) which the request was mainly rooted in psychosocial or existential suffering, such as fear of future suffering or dependency. For each case, respondents were asked whether they recognised the case from their own practice and whether they considered the suffering to be unbearable. Results: The cases were recognisable for almost all respondents. For the “standard case” nearly all respondents were convinced that the patient suffered unbearably. For the other cases, GPs thought the suffering was unbearable less often (2–49%) than consultants (25–79%) and members of the euthanasia review committees (24–88%). In each group, the suffering of patients with early dementia and patients who were “tired of living” was least often considered to be unbearable. Conclusions: When non-physical aspects of suffering are central in a euthanasia request, there is variance between and within GPs, consultants and members of the euthanasia committees in their judgement of the patient’s suffering. Possible explanations could be differences in their roles in the decision-making process, differences in experience with evaluating a euthanasia request, or differences in views regarding the permissibility of euthanasia. (shrink)
BackgroundPregnant people have been overlooked or excluded from clinical research, resulting in a lack of scientific knowledge on medication safety and efficacy during pregnancy. Thus far, both the opportunities to generate evidence-based knowledge beyond clinical trials and the role of pregnant people in changing their status quo have not been discussed. Some scholars have argued that for rare disease patients, for whom, just like pregnant people, a poor evidence base exists regarding treatments, solidarity has played an important role in addressing (...) the evidence gap. This paper explores whether and how the enactment of solidarity among pregnant people can be stimulated to help address the poor evidence base on medications used during pregnancy.MethodWe use the concept of solidarity formulated by Prainsack and Buyx and enrich their concept by providing an account for stimulating the enactment of solidarity. Then we apply this account to the case of pregnant people who use medication.ResultsSolidarity means enacted commitment on the part of an individual to assisting others with whom the person recognizes a similarity in a relevant respect. Although solidarity cannot be imposed, we argue that the empowerment of people is a crucial concept in understanding how solidarity can be stimulated. Empowerment in the context of pregnant people means creating awareness about their status quo, explaining how scientific research can help close the knowledge gap, and how pregnant people can themselves contribute. In particular, how pregnant people can contribute to the collection of health data to strengthen the evidence base for medications used during pregnancy.ConclusionsWe conclude that acting in solidarity can help change the status quo for pregnant people. Furthermore, we argue that the empowerment of pregnant people and other relevant stakeholders is a way to stimulate the enactment of solidarity. The process of empowerment starts by raising awareness about the lack of evidence on medications used during prengnacy and by explaining to pregnant people how they can contribute to changing the way knowledge is being generated by, for example, sharing data on the health effects of medications. (shrink)
The Dutch law states that a physician may perform euthanasia according to a written advance euthanasia directive when a patient is incompetent as long as all legal criteria of due care are met. This may also hold for patients with advanced dementia. We investigated the differing opinions of physicians and members of the general public on the acceptability of euthanasia in patients with advanced dementia.
OBJECTIVES: To identify the factors that influence the assessment of reported cases of physician-assisted death by members of the public prosecution. DESIGN/SETTING: At the beginning of 1996, during verbal interviews, 12 short case-descriptions were presented to a representative group of 47 members of the public prosecution in the Netherlands. RESULTS: Assessment varied considerably between respondents. Some respondents made more "lenient" assessments than others. Characteristics of the respondents, such as function, personal-life philosophy and age, were not related to the assessment. Case (...) characteristics, i.e. the presence of an explicit request, life expectancy and the type of suffering, strongly influenced the assessment. Of these characteristics, the presence or absence of an explicit request was the most important determinant of the decision whether or not to hold an inquest. CONCLUSIONS: Although the presence of an explicit request, life expectancy and the type of suffering each influenced the assessment, each individual assessment was dependent on the assessor. The resulting danger of legal inequality and legal uncertainty, particularly in complicated cases, should be kept to a minimum by the introduction of some form of protocol and consultation in doubtful or boundary cases. The notification procedure already promotes a certain degree of uniformity in the prosecution policy. (shrink)
In view of the aging and dejuvenation of the working population and the expected shortages in employees’ skills in the future, it is of utmost importance to focus on older workers’ employability in order to prolong their working life until, or even beyond, their official retirement age. The primary aim of the current study was to examine the relationship between elderly workers’ employability (self-)perceptions and their intention to continue working until their official retirement age. In addition, we studied the role (...) of potential antecedents of their perceived employability at three different levels: training and education in current expertise area as well as in an adjacent expertise area (individual level factor), learning value of the job (job level factor), and organizational career management practices (organizational level factor). Data were collected by means of e-questionnaires that were distributed among two groups of Dutch older (45-plus) white collar workers. The samples consisted of 223 employees of an insurance company, and 325 university workers, respectively. Our research model was tested separately in each sample using Structural Equation Modelling; in our analyses, we controlled for the effects of respondents’ (self-)perceived health and (self-)perceived financial situation. Similar results were found for both samples. First, the relationship of perceived employability with the intention to continue working until one’s retirement age was positive, whereas the relationship between a perceived good financial situation with the intention to continue working until one’s retirement age was negative. Secondly, as regards the potential antecedents, results showed that the learning value of the job was positively related to perceived employability. In addition, an employee’s perception of good health is a relevant correlate of perceived employability. So, whereas perceived employability contributes to the intention to continue working until one’s retirement age, a perceived good financial situation is a push factor to retire early. In order to promote the labour participation of older workers, this study indicates that organizations should focus on the learning possibilities that are inherent to one’s job rather than on providing additional training or career management. Further research is needed to test the generalizability of our results to other samples. (shrink)
Socioemotional selectivity theory (SST), an influential life-span theory, suggests that older adults prefer persuasive messages that appeal to emotionally-meaningful goals over messages that appeal to knowledge-related goals, whereas younger adults do not show this preference. A mixed-factorial experiment was conducted to test whether older adults (≥65 years) differ from younger adults (25–45 years) in their preference for emotionally-meaningful appeals over knowledge-related appeals, when appeals are clearly developed in line with SST. For older adults we found the expected preference for emotionally-meaningful (...) appeals for cancer centers but not for grocery stores and travel organizations. As expected, in most cases, younger adults did not show a preference. Implications for SST-based communication research and for practice are discussed. (shrink)
Research on social influences often distinguishes between social and quality incentives to ascribe meaning to the value that popularity conveys. This study examines the neural correlates of those incentives through which popularity influences preferences. This research reports an functional magnetic resonance imaging experiment and a behavioral task in which respondents evaluated popular products with three focus perspectives; unspecified focus, focus on social aspects, and focus on quality. The results show that value derived with a social focus reflects inferences of approval (...) and reward value, and positively affects preferences. Value derived with a quality focus reflects inferences of quality and negatively affects preferences. This study provides evidence of two distinct inferential routes on both a neurological level, represented by different regions in the brain, and a behavioral level. These results provide the first evidence that a single popularity cue can in different ways influence the value derived from product popularity. (shrink)
Moral case deliberation (MCD) is a specific form of clinical ethics, aiming to stimulate ethical reflection in daily practice in order to improve the quality of care. This article focuses on the implementation of MCD in nursing homes and the questions how and where to organize MCD. The purpose of this study was to evaluate one way of organizing MCD in two Dutch nursing homes. In both of these nursing homes the MCD groups had a heterogeneous composition and were organized (...) apart from existing institutional communication structures. As part of a naturalistic evaluation, systematic observations, interviews and focus groups were completed. The findings indicate that the heterogeneous composition and MCD meetings separate from existing structures have benefits. However, the participants also reported negative experiences. This gives rise to the question whether a mixed MCD group which meets separately is an effective way to embed MCD as an instrument for reflection on moral issues in daily practice. We conclude that there is no single answer to that question. In the end, the two implementation strategies (i.e. within existing communication structures and a mixed MCD group) can be complementary to each other. (shrink)
The participation of vulnerable patients in clinical research poses apparent ethical dilemmas. Depending on the nature of the vulnerability, their participation may challenge the ethical principles of autonomy, non-maleficence, or justice. On the other hand, non-participation may preclude the building of a knowledge base that is a prerequisite for defining the optimal clinical management of vulnerable patients. Such clinical uncertainty may also incur substantial economic costs. We present the participation of pre-menopausal women with atrial fibrillation in trials of novel oral (...) anticoagulant drugs as a case study. Due to their non-participation in pivotal trials, it is uncertain whether for them, the risks that are associated with these drugs are outweighed by the advantages compared with conventional treatment. We addressed the question whether research of this new class of drugs in this subgroup would be appropriate from both, an ethical as well an economic perspective. We used the method of specifying norms as a wider framework to resolve the apparent ethical dilemma, while incorporating the question whether research of oral anticoagulants in premenopausal women with atrial fibrillation can be justified on economic grounds. For the latter, the results of a value-of-information analysis were used. Further clinical research on NOACs in premenopausal women with atrial fibrillation can be justified on both, ethical and economic grounds. Addressing apparent ethical dilemmas by invoking a method such as specifying norms can improve the quality of public practical reasoning. As such, the method should also prove valuable to committees that have formally been granted the authority to review trial protocols and proposals for scientific research. (shrink)
Health care professionals often face moral dilemmas. Not dealing constructively with moral dilemmas can cause moral distress and can negatively affect the quality of care. Little research has been documented with methodologies meant to support professionals in care for the homeless in dealing with their dilemmas. Moral case deliberation is a method for systematic reflection on moral dilemmas and is increasingly being used as ethics support for professionals in various health-care domains. This study deals with the question: What is the (...) contribution of MCD in helping professionals in an institution for care for the homeless to deal with their moral dilemmas? A mixed-methods responsive evaluation design was used to answer the research question. Five teams of professionals from a Dutch care institution for the homeless participated in MCD three times. Professionals in care for the homeless value MCD positively. They report that MCD helped them to identify the moral dilemma/question, and that they learned from other people’s perspectives while reflecting and deliberating on the values at stake in the dilemma or moral question. They became aware of the moral dimension of moral dilemmas, of related norms and values, of other perspectives, and learned to formulate a moral standpoint. Some experienced the influence of MCD in the way they dealt with moral dilemmas in daily practice. Half of the professionals expect MCD will influence the way they deal with moral dilemmas in the future. Most of them were in favour of further implementation of MCD in their organization. (shrink)
Two decades of research on euthanasia in the Netherlands have resulted into clear insights in the frequency and characteristics of euthanasia and other medical end-of-life decisions in the Netherlands. These empirical studies have contributed to the quality of the public debate, and to the regulating and public control of euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide. No slippery slope seems to have occurred. Physicians seem to adhere to the criteria for due care in the large majority of cases. Further, it has been shown (...) that the majority of physicians think that the euthanasia Act has improved their legal certainty and contributes to the carefulness of life-terminating acts. In 2005, eighty percent of the euthanasia cases were reported to the review committees. Thus, the transparency envisaged by the Act still does not extend to all cases. Unreported cases almost all involve the use of opioids, and are not considered to be euthanasia by physicians. More education and debate is needed to disentangle in these situations which acts should be regarded as euthanasia and which should not. Medical end-of-life decision-making is a crucial part of end-of-life care. It should therefore be given continuous attention in health care policy and medical training. Systematic periodic research is crucial for enhancing our understanding of end-of-life care in modern medicine, in which the pursuit of a good quality of dying is nowadays widely recognized as an important goal, in addition to the traditional goals such as curing diseases and prolonging life. (shrink)