Journal of Medical Ethics and History of Medicine 2015. 8(0):.

Ethical challenges in the neonatal intensive care units: perceptions of physicians and nurses; an Iranian experience
Maliheh Kadivar, Ziba Mosayebi, Fariba Asghari, Pari Zarrini


The challenging nature of neonatal medicine today is intensified by modern advances in intensive care and

treatment of sicker neonates. These developments have caused numerous ethical issues and conflicts in ethical

decision-making. The present study surveyed the challenges and dilemmas from the viewpoint of the neonatal

intensive care personnel in the teaching hospitals of Tehran University of Medical Sciences (TUMS) in the capital of


In this comparative cross-sectional study conducted between March 2013 and February 2014, the physicians’ and

nurses’ perceptions of the ethical issues in neonatal intensive care units were compared. The physicians and

nurses of the study hospitals were requested to complete a 36-item questionnaire after initial accommodations.

The study samples consisted of 284 physicians (36%) and nurses (64%). Content validity and internal consistency

calculations were used to examine the psychometric properties of the questionnaire. Data were analyzed by

Pearson's correlation, t-test, ANOVA, and linear regression using SPSS v. 22.

Respecting patients’ rights and interactions with parents were perceived as the most challenging aspects of

neonatal care. There were significant differences between sexes in the domains of the perceived challenges.

According to the linear regression model, the perceived score would be reduced 0.33 per each year on the job.

The results of our study showed that the most challenging issues were related to patients’ rights, interactions with

parents, communication and cooperation, and end of life considerations respectively. It can be concluded,

therefore, that more attention should be paid to these issues in educational programs and ethics committees of



ethical issues, neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), nursing ethics, hospital ethics committee

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