Vol 9 (2016)


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    The right to information Act was implemented in the Iranian legal system through accession of the Merida Convention ensuring the right to information as a fundamental right for the public. One significant aspects of this subject is the ratification of the "Disclosure and Access to Information Act" by which it is recognized as a right of all Persian individuals and citizens to access state-held information in Iran administration.

    The Iranian legislature, with regard to the role of access to information and its significance, clarified the scope, permitted subjects of access, and exceptions of the right to state-held information. In this essay, we will discuss the legal aspects and scope of ensuring access to medical information in the Iranian statutes and their exceptions. It is argued that the Iranian legislation ensures the principle of maximum disclosure, while sensitive subjects’, specially classified and private information, are exempted. Therefore, the related rules in Iran’s statutes not only do not threaten patient’s information, but also protect them by criminalizing the breaching of the mentioned right.
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    The doctor-patient interaction (DPI) plays an important role in the way patients view physicians. Thus, response to the question of ''Who is a great physician?'' is related to DPI experiences of patients. The aim of this qualitative study was to explore patients' views regarding this subject. Based on critical ethnography in one educational hospital in Shiraz, Iran, the study was performed based on 156 clinical consultations, 920 hours of participant observations, and 6 focus groups with patients and their relatives. The results revealed that asymmetrical power relationships exist in this context. Based on the general views of participants and their recent DPI experiences, a great physician should be kind, empathetic, friendly, and a good listener. Considering the presence of an asymmetrical power relationships in this context, results showed that doctors do not participate in an active interaction. Based on sociological theories, it can be concluded that the concept of a great physician is not only limited to obligations as in the Parsonian view, but is also related to active communication between both sides which is presented in the critical view. Through active communication‎, asymmetrical power relationships can be reduced. Thus, if a physician wants to become a great physician, he/she must strengthen his/her humanistic dimensions and communicative skills alongside his/her medical skills.
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    The doctor-patient relationship (DPR) is one of the most important subjects in medical sociology and health policy. Due to mutual understanding, undistorted DPRs not only result in satisfaction of both doctors and patients, but also help to reduce financial burdens for patients and the health care system. The purpose of this research was to identify a DPR based on the qualitative paradigm model which is called the grounded theory (GT) methodology. The data were collected from 3 focus groups, the participants of which consisted of 21 faculty members of Shiraz University of Medical Sciences, Shiraz, Iran. The content of the interviews, following the transcription stage, was organized based on open, axial, and selective coding. Results showed that DPR was distorted which was the consequence of an inefficient structure in the healthcare system which is related to several cultural barriers. In this situation, agency is determinant so the doctor's personality determines the direction of DPR. Consequences of such scenarios are the patient’s distrust, patient's dissatisfaction, lack of mutual understanding, patient suppression, and patient deception. Therefore, the health care system should emphasize on reforming its inefficient infrastructures, so that, besides being controlled and surveyed, physicians are socialized ethically.


Original Article(s)

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    Implementation of patient feedback is considered as a critical part of effective and efficient management in developed countries. The main objectives of this study were to assess patient satisfaction with the services provided in hospitals affiliated to Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Iran, identify areas of patient dissatisfaction, and find ways to improve patient satisfaction with hospital services.
    This cross-sectional study was conducted in 3 phases. After 2 initial preparation phases, the valid instrument was applied through telephone interviews with 21476 participants from 26 hospitals during August, 2011 to February, 2013.Using the Satisfaction Survey tool, information of patient's demographic characteristics were collected and patient satisfaction with 15 areas of hospital services and the intent to return the same hospitals were assessed.
    The mean score of overall satisfaction with hospital services was 16.86 ± 2.72 out of 20. It was found that 58% of participants were highly satisfied with the services provided. Comparison of mean scores showed physician and medical services (17.75 ± 4.02), laboratory and radiology services (17.67 ± 3.66), and privacy and religious issues (17.55 ± 4.32) had the highest satisfaction. The patients were the most dissatisfied with the food services (15.50 ± 5.54). It was also found that 83.7% of the participants intended to return to the same hospital in case of need, which supported the measured satisfaction level.
    Patient satisfaction in hospitals affiliated to Tehran University of Medical Sciences was high. It seems that the present study, with its large sample size, has sufficient reliability to express the patient satisfaction status. Moreover, appropriate measures should be taken in some areas (food, cost, and etc.) to increase patient satisfaction.

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    Obtaining informed consents is one of the most fundamental principles in conducting a clinical trial. In order for the consent to be informed, the patient must receive and comprehend the information appropriately. Complexity of the consent form is a common problem that has been shown to be a major barrier to comprehension for many patients. The objective of this study was to assess the readability of different templates of informed consent forms (ICFs) used in clinical trials in the Center for Research and Training in Skin Diseases and Leprosy (CRTSDL), Tehran, Iran.
    This study was conducted on ICFs of 45 clinical trials of the CRTSDL affiliated with Tehran University of Medical Sciences. ICFs were tested for reading difficulty, using the readability assessments formula adjusted for the Persian language including the Flesch–Kincaid reading ease score, Flesch–Kincaid grade level, and Gunning fog index. Mean readability score of the whole text of ICFs as well as their 7 main information parts were calculated.
    The mean ± SD Flesch Reading Ease score for all ICFs was 31.96 ± 5.62 that is in the difficult range. The mean ± SD grade level was calculated as 10.71 ± 1.8 (8.23–14.09) using the Flesch–Kincaid formula and 14.64 ± 1.22 (12.67–18.27) using the Gunning fog index. These results indicate that the text is expected to be understandable for an average student in the 11th grade, while the ethics committee recommend grade level 8 as the standard readability level for ICFs.
    The results showed that the readability scores of ICFs assessed in our study were not in the acceptable range. This means they were too complex to be understood by the general population. Ethics committees must examine the simplicity and readability of ICFs used in clinical trials.

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    The human dignity of patients with cardiovascular disease (CVD) is an important issue, because of patients’ dependence upon caregivers, and because it impacts all aspects of their quality of life (QOL). Therefore, understanding and improving the status of dignity among these patients is of great importance. This study aimed to determine the status of dignity in patients with CVD admitted to cardiac intensive care units (CICUs) in Iran.
    This cross-sectional descriptive study was performed in 2015 on 200 patients admitted to the CICUs of hospitals affiliated to Kerman University of Medical Sciences, Iran. The participants were selected using random sampling method. Patients’ understanding of dignity was assessed through the reliable and valid Persian version of the Patient Dignity Inventory (PDI). Patients who were able to read and write or speak Persian and were conscious were included in the study. Data were analyzed using descriptive statistics tests, independent t-test, and one-way ANOVA in SPSS software.
    The mean age of the study participants was 59.0 ± 17.0. The mean score of human dignity was 3.60 ± 1.39. The mean scores of the factors of loss of independence, emotional distress and uncertainty, changes in ability and mental image, and the loss of human dignity were 3.94 ± 1.06, 3.63 ± 1.37, 3.57 ± 1.20, and 3.30 ± 2.08, respectively. A significant statistical correlation was observed between human dignity and the demographic characteristics of gender and frequency of hospitalizations in a CICU and a significant difference between those who lived alone and those who lived with family was observed (P < 0.05).
    Patients hospitalized in CICUs experience numerous problems associated with human dignity in each of its four dimensions. It is recommended that a study be conducted to investigate the relationship between the human dignity of patients with CVD and their QOL, anxiety, and depression.

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    One of the major advances in medicine has been the use of cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) procedure since the 1960s in order to save human lives. This procedure has so far saved thousands of lives. Although CPR has helped to save lives, in some cases, it prolongs the process of dying, suffering, and pain in patients.
    This study was conducted to explain the experience of Iranian physicians regarding do not resuscitate order (DNR). This study was a directed qualitative content analysis which analyzed the perspective of 8 physicians on different aspects of DNR guidelines. Semi-structured, in-depth interview was used to collect data (35 to 60 minutes). First, literature review of 6 main categories, including clinical, patient and family, moral, legal, religious, and economic aspects, was carried out through content analysis. At the end of each session, interviews were transcribed verbatim. Then, the text was broken into the smallest meaningful unit (code) and the codes were classified into main categories.
    The codes were classified into 6 main categories, which were extracted from the literature. In the clinical domain 4 codes, in patient and family 3 codes, in moral domain 4 codes, in religious domain 3 codes, and in economic domain 1 code were extracted.
    According to the findings of this study, it can be said that Iranian physicians approve the DNR order as it provides dying patients with a dignified death. However, they do not issue DNR order due to the lack of legal and religious support. Nevertheless, if legislators and the Iranian jurisprudence pass a bill in this regard, physicians with the help of clinical guidelines can issue DNR order for dying patients who require it.

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    The nature of the doctor-patient relationship as a keystone of care necessitates philosophical, psychological and sociological considerations. The present study investigates concepts related to these three critical views considered especially important. From the philosophical viewpoint, the three concepts of "the demands of ethics “,” ethical phenomenology and "the philosophy of the relationship" are of particular importance. From a psychological point of view, the five concepts of "communication behavior patterns" (including submissiveness, dominance, aggression, and assertiveness), "psychic distance", "emotional quotient", "conflict between pain relief and truth-telling", and "body language" have received specific emphasis. Lastly, from the sociological perspective, the three notions of "instrumental action", "communicative action", and "reaching agreement in the light of communicative action" are the most significant concepts to reconsider in the doctor-patient relationship. It should be added, however, that from the sociological point of view, the doctor-patient relationship goes beyond a two-person interaction, as the moral principles of doctors and patients depend on medical and patient ethics respectively. The theoretical foundations of the doctor-patient relationship will finally help establish the different dimensions of medical interactions. This can contribute to the development of principles and multidisciplinary bases for establishing practical ethical codes and will eventually result in a more effective doctor-patient relationship.

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    Moral hazards are the result of an expansive range of factors mostly originating in the patients’ roles. The objective of the present study was to investigate patient incentives for moral hazards using the experiences of experts of basic Iranian insurance organizations.
    This was a qualitative research. Data were collected through semi-structured interviews. The study population included all experts of basic healthcare insurance agencies in the City of Isfahan, Iran, who were familiar with the topic of moral hazards. A total of 18 individuals were selected through purposive sampling and interviewed and some criteria such as data reliability and stability were considered. The anonymity of the interviewees was preserved. The data were transcribed, categorized, and then, analyzed through thematic analysis method.
    Through thematic analysis, 2 main themes and 11 subthemes were extracted. The main themes included economic causes and moral-cultural causes affecting the phenomenon of moral hazards resulted from patients’ roles. Each of these themes has some sub-themes.
    False expectations from insurance companies are rooted in the moral and cultural values of individuals. People with the insurance coverage make no sense if using another person insurance identification or requesting physicians for prescribing the medicines. These expectations will lead them to moral hazards. Individuals with any insurance coverage should consider the rights of insurance agencies as third party payers and supportive organizations which disburden them from economical loads in the time of sickness.

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    Significant sociopolitical changes in recent decades have not only influenced the nursing profession, but also the entire Iranian healthcare system. This study describes the historical evolution of the nursing profession within a sociopolitical context.
    This historical review of unpublished and published literature endorsed personal accounts of historic events by 14 of the oldest nurses in Iran chosen through purposive sampling method, as they shared their nursing experiences. Individual recollections were collected through in-depth and semi-structured interviews and later analyzed through oral history analysis method.
    From the results, the 3 categories of the White Revolution, the Islamic Revolution, and Iran-Iraq war and 8 subcategories emerged, where participants identified factors that fundamentally changed the Iranian nursing profession.
    The nursing profession continues to develop and help revise policies to improve the healthcare system and quality of care. The findings of this study facilitate the better understanding of the influence of sociopolitical events on the nursing profession and guide the revision or development of new healthcare policies.

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    In any clinical encounter, an effective physician-patient relationship is necessary for achieving the desired outcome. This outcome is successful treatment, and therefore, the relationship should be a healing one. In addition, in the Islamic view, the physician is a manifestation of God’s healing attribute, which is usually undermined in everyday therapeutic communications. Yet there are few empirical data about this experience and how it occurs in the clinical context. This study was conducted to develop a model of physician-patient relationship, with the healing process at its core. Our goal was to explain the nature and characteristics of this encounter. In Islamic teachings, healing is defined as “cure” when possible and if not, reducing pain and suffering and ultimately finding a meaning in the illness experience.
    This study was a qualitative inquiry. Data were collected through 17 open-ended, semi-structured interviews with physicians who had an effective relationship with their patients. The participants’ experiences and their perception regarding the relationship were subjected to grounded theory content analysis. For establishing the trustworthiness of the data collection and analysis we used triangulation, peer review, and member checking. 
    The findings showed that the components of the patient-physician healing relationship could be categorized in the four key processes of valuing the patient as a person, effective management of power imbalance, commitment, and the physician’s competence and character. This leads to forming the three necessary relational elements of trust, peace and hope, and being acknowledged. Their importance has been better demonstrated in a relationship which incorporates the spiritual aspects of patient care and also physician’s satisfaction.
    The physician-patient relationship has a central role in patient outcome. This relationship has an understandable structure and its components may have an effective impact on promoting the patient’s experience of the health system.

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    In his seminal book on the historical periods of Western attitudes toward death, Philippe Aries describes four consecutive periods through which these attitudes evolved and transformed. According to him, the historical attitudes of Western cultures have passed through four major parts described above: “Tamed Death,” One’s Own Death,” “Thy Death,” and “Forbidden Death.” This paper, after exploring this concept through the lens of Persian Poetic Wisdom, concludes that he historical attitudes of Persian-speaking people toward death have generally passed through two major periods. The first period is an amalgamation of Aries’ “Tamed Death” and “One’s Own Death” periods, and the second period is an amalgamation of Aries’ “Thy Death” and “Forbidden Death” periods.

    This paper explores the main differences and similarities of these two historical trends through a comparative review of the consecutive historical periods of attitudes toward death between the Western and Persian civilizations/cultures. Although both civilizations moved through broadly similar stages, some influential contextual factors have been very influential in shaping noteworthy differences between them. The concepts of after-death judgment and redemption/downfall dichotomy and practices like deathbed rituals and their evolution after enlightenment and modernity are almost common between the above two broad traditions. The chronology of events and some aspects of conceptual evolutions (such as the lack of the account of permanent death of nonbelievers in the Persian tradition) and ritualistic practices (such as the status of the tombs of Shiite Imams and the absolute lack of embalming and wake in the Persian/Shiite culture) are among the differences.
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    As future providers of health services, nursing students should learn about ethical concepts over the course of their education. These concepts are currently taught in nursing schools, yet the degree of moral sensitivity in nursing students before entering clinical settings is a topic of controversy. This was a cross-sectional study on the nursing students studying for a bachelor’s degree in Qazvin University of Medical Sciences selected through census sampling (n = 205). Data were collected by Lutzen's Moral Sensitivity Questionnaire and analyzed through statistical tests using SPSS 16. The level of significance was P < 0.05. In order to conduct the study, permission was obtained from the Ethics Committee of Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences.The mean of moral sensitivity was found to be 66.1 + 8.1, which is a moderate level. Of all the dimensions of moral sensitivity, "expressing benevolence" had the highest (16.9 ± 4.04) and "structuring moral sense" had the lowest (5.2 ± 1.45) mean scores. Among demographic variables, age was found to have a significant positive correlation with the score of moral sensitivity (r = 0.2, P = 0.01).Nursing students are relatively familiar with the ethical concepts of patient care, but that does not seem to be sufficed, as moral sensitivity is an extremely crucial factor in care. It is therefore recommended that the necessary training be provided to develop moral sensitivity in nursing students both in educational and practical environments.

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    A major debate in medical ethics is the request for futile treatment. The topic of medical futility requires discrete assessment in Iran for at least two reasons. First, the common principles and foundations of medical ethics have taken shape in the context of Western culture and secularism. Accordingly, the implementation of the same guidelines and codes of medical ethics as Western societies in Muslim communities does not seem rational. Second, the challenges arising in health service settings are divergent across different countries.
    The Quranic concept of idle (laghw) and its derivatives are used in 11 honorable verses of the Holy Quran. Among these verses, the 3rd verse of the blessed Al-Muminūn Surah was selected for its closer connection to the concept under examination. The selected verse was researched in the context of all dictionaries presented in Noor Jami` al-Tafasir 2 (The Noor Collection of Interpretations 2) software.
    "Idle" is known as any insignificant speech, act, or thing that is not beneficial; an action from which no benefit is gained; any falsehood (that is not stable or realized); an entertaining act; any foul, futile talk and action unworthy of attention; loss of hope; and something that is not derived from method and thought. The word has also been used to refer to anything insignificant. The notes and derived interpretations were placed in the following categories: A) Having no significant benefit (When medical care does not benefit the patient (his body and/or soul and his life in this world and/or the Hereafter), it is wrong to proceed with that medical modality; B) Falsehood (Actions that fail to provide, maintain, and improve health are clearly futile); C) Unworthy of attention (An action that neither improves health nor threatens it is wrong and impermissible).

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    It has long been a common goal for both medical educators and ethicists to develop effective methods or programs for medical ethics education. The current lecture-based courses of medical ethics programs in medical schools are demonstrated as insufficient models for training “good doctors’’.
    In this study, we introduce an innovative program for medical ethics education in an extra-curricular student-based design named Students’ Medical Ethics Rounds (SMER). In SMER, a combination of educational methods, including theater-based case presentation, large group discussion, expert opinions, role playing and role modeling were employed. The pretest-posttest experimental design was used to assess the impact of interventions on the participants’ knowledge and attitude regarding selected ethical topics.
    A total of 335 students participated in this study and 86.57% of them filled the pretest and posttest forms. We observed significant improvements in the knowledge (P < 0.0500) and attitude (P < 0.0001) of participants. Interestingly, 89.8% of participants declared that their confidence regarding how to deal with the ethical problems outlined in the sessions was increased. All of the applied educational methods were reported as helpful.
    We found that SMER might be an effective method of teaching medical ethics. We highly recommend the investigation of the advantages of SMER in larger studies and interdisciplinary settings.

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    Crime is a human behavior that has captivated the thoughts of scholars of various disciplines throughout history. Philosophers, sociologists, psychologists and others have investigated and analyzed the concept of crime from different aspects. Crime is the main topic of criminal law, and in its legal meaning is a well-known term with a certain conceptual load that should not be confused with similar concepts such as guilt, civil crime (quasi tort), and particularly, the disciplinary transgression. Although crime has common points with all the above, it is an independent concept with unique effects, features, and descriptions that distinguish it from similar acts. This article aims to determine the difference between the concepts of crime, guilt, civil crime and disciplinary transgression through enumeration of the related issues as well as examples of medical disciplinary crimes and transgressions. Identifying and distinguishing these concepts can improve the procedure of prosecuting crimes and disciplinary transgression, bring punishment to criminals and transgressors, and facilitate compensation of pecuniary and non-pecuniary losses due to committers’ fault or failure. Thus we may avoid taking a wrong route that can lead to infringement of individuals’ rights.

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    One of the advanced nursing care procedures emphasized by nursing organizations around the world is patient or nursing advocacy. In addition to illustrating the professional power of nursing, it helps to provide effective nursing care. The aim of the present study was to explain the concept of patient advocacy from the perspective of Iranian clinical nurses.
    This was a qualitative study that examined the viewpoint and experiences of 15 clinical nurses regarding patient advocacy in nursing. The nurses worked in intensive care units (ICUs), coronary care units (CCUs), and emergency units. The study participants were selected via purposeful sampling. The data was collected through semi-structured interviews and analyzed using content analysis.
    Data analysis showed that patient advocacy consisted of the two themes of empathy with the patient (including understanding, being sympathetic with, and feeling close to the patient) and protecting the patients (including patient care, prioritization of patients’ health, commitment to the completion of the care process, and protection of patients' rights).
    The results of this study suggest that nurses must be empathetic toward and protective of their patients. The results of the present study can be used in health care delivery, nursing education, and nursing management and planning systems to help nurses accomplish their important role as patient advocates. It is necessary to further study the connections between patient advocacy and empathy.

Review Article(s)

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    Concerns over limited medical equipment and resources, particularly in intensive care units (ICUs), have raised the issue of medical futility. Medical futility draws a contrast between physician’s authority and patients’ autonomy and it is one of the major issues of end-of-life ethical decision-making. The aim of this study was to review medical futility and its challenges.
    In this systematized review study, a comprehensive search of the existing literature was performed using an internet search with broad keywords to access related articles in both Persian and English databases. Finally, 89 articles were selected and surveyed.
    Medical futility is a complex, ambiguous, subjective, situation-specific, value-laden, and goal-dependent concept which is almost always surrounded by some degrees of uncertainty; hence, there is no objective and valid criterion for its determination. This concept is affected by many different factors such as physicians’ and patients’ value systems, medical goals, and sociocultural and religious context, and individuals’ emotions and personal characteristics.
    It is difficult to achieve a clear consensus over the concept of medical futility; hence, it should be defined and determined at an individual level and based on the unique condition of each patient.

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    In the last few years, medical education policy makers have expressed concern about changes in the ethical attitude and behavior of medical trainees during the course of their education. They claim that newly graduated physicians (MDs) are entering residency years with inappropriate habits and attitudes earned during their education. This allegation has been supported by numerous research on the changes in the attitude and morality of medical trainees. The aim of this paper was to investigate ethical erosion among medical trainees as a serious universal problem, and to urge the authorities to take urgent preventive and corrective action. A comparison with the course of moral development in ordinary people from Kohlberg’s and Gilligan's points of view reveals that the growth of ethical attitudes and behaviors in medical students is stunted or even degraded in many medical schools. In the end, the article examines the feasibility of teaching ethics in medical schools and the best approach for this purpose. It concludes that there is considerable controversy among ethicists on whether teaching ethical virtues is plausible at all. Virtue-based ethics, principle-based ethics and ethics of care are approaches that have been considered as most applicable in this regard.


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    Hospital ethics committees (HECs) help clinicians deal with the ethical challenges which have been raised during clinical practice. A comprehensive literature review was conducted to provide a historical background of the development of HECs internationally and describe their functions and practical challenges of their day to day work. This is the first part of a comprehensive literature review conducted between February 2014 and August 2016 by searching through scientific databases. The keyword ethics committee, combined with hospital, clinic, and institution, was used without a time limitation. All original and discussion articles, as well as other scientific documents were included. Of all the articles and theses found using these keywords, only 56 were consistent with the objectives of the study. Based on the review goals, the findings were divided into three main categories; the inception of HECs in the world, the function of HECs, and the challenges of HECs. According to the results, the Americas Region and European Region countries have been the most prominent considering the establishment of HECs. However, the majority of the Eastern Mediterranean Region and South-East Asia Region countries are only beginning to establish these committees in their hospitals. The results highlight the status and functions of HECs in different countries and may be used as a guide by health policymakers and managers who are at the inception of establishing these committees in their hospitals.