Journal of Medical Ethics and History of Medicine 2017. 10(0):.

The underlying factors affecting the ethical performance of health service providers when faced with disasters: a qualitative study
Mahmoud Abbasi, Mohsen Fadavi, Shabnam Bazmi


Disasters are sudden catastrophic events leading to decisions in health service provision that are not in compliance with the principles and frameworks used in normal circumstances. It is essential to develop guidelines in order to ensure the ethical performance of health service providers and to prevent and manage the adverse consequences. As the first step in guideline development, the present study investigated the underlying factors affecting the ethical performance of health service providers in disasters.

This was a qualitative research based on grounded theory, and was conducted through unstructured in-depth interviews with various health service providers including paramedics, physicians and crisis zone managers who had some experiences in a number of domestic and foreign disasters. The collected data were analyzed using conventional content analysis.

The underlying factors extracted from the 24 interviews were divided into structural and mediatory factors. The structural factors covered the nature of the disaster, the type of social interactions, and lack of a unity management; the mediatory factors were connected to the emotional atmosphere governing the field, the behavior of the local people, the locals’ economic status, the locals’ trust in the authorities, and the safety of the crisis zone.

We can look into more effective, continuous and dynamic relationships between the components of the process of ethical performance. It is evident, however, that the underlying factors have more effective roles than the other components. According to our findings, the role of the underlying, structural and mediatory factors are more of a threat than an opportunity in disasters.


Health service providers, Professional ethics, Disasters, Ethical performance

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