Vol 10 (2017)


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    Doctor-patient interaction (DPI) includes different voices, of which the educator voice is of considerable importance. Physicians employ this voice to educate patients and their caregivers by providing them with information in order to change the patients’ behavior and improve their health status. The subject has not yet been fully understood, and therefore the present study was conducted to explore the pattern of educator voice. For this purpose, conversation analysis (CA) of 33 recorded clinical consultations was performed in outpatient educational clinics in Shiraz, Iran between April 2014 and September 2014. In this qualitative study, all utterances, repetitions, lexical forms, chuckles and speech particles were considered and interpreted as social actions. Interpretations were based on inductive data-driven analysis with the aim to find recurring patterns of educator voice. The results showed educator voice to have two general features: descriptive and prescriptive. However, the pattern of educator voice comprised characteristics such as superficiality, marginalization of patients, one-dimensional approach, ignoring a healthy lifestyle, and robotic nature. The findings of this study clearly demonstrated a deficiency in the educator voice and inadequacy in patient-centered dialogue. In this setting, the educator voice was related to a distortion of DPI through the physicians’ dominance, leading them to ignore their professional obligation to educate patients. Therefore, policies in this regard should take more account of enriching the educator voice through training medical students and faculty members in communication skills.

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    Past life regression therapy is used by some physicians in cases with some mental diseases. Anxiety disorders, mood disorders, and gender dysphoria have all been treated using life regression therapy by some doctors on the assumption that they reflect problems in past lives. Although it is not supported by psychiatric associations, few medical associations have actually condemned it as unethical. In this article, I argue that past life regression therapy is unethical for two basic reasons. First, it is not evidence-based. Past life regression is based on the reincarnation hypothesis, but this hypothesis is not supported by evidence, and in fact, it faces some insurmountable conceptual problems. If patients are not fully informed about these problems, they cannot provide an informed consent, and hence, the principle of autonomy is violated. Second, past life regression therapy has the great risk of implanting false memories in patients, and thus, causing significant harm. This is a violation of the principle of non-malfeasance, which is surely the most important principle in medical ethics.

Original Article(s)

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    In the nursing profession, leadership plays a significant role in creating motivation and thus enabling nurses to provide high quality care. Ethics is an essential component of leadership qualifications and the ethical leader can help create an ethical atmosphere, offer ethical guidance, and ensure the occupational satisfaction of personnel through prioritizing moralities. However, some issues prevent the implementation of this type of leadership by nursing leaders. The aim of this study was to identify and describe some problems and obstacles in ethical leadership faced by nursing leaders, and to help them achieve more accurate information and broader perspective in this field.
    The present study was conducted using a qualitative approach and content analysis. A total of 14 nursing managers and educators were selected purposefully, and deep and semi-structured interviews were conducted with them. Content analysis was performed using an inductive approach.
    Three main categories were obtained after data analysis: ethical, cultural and managerial problems. “Ethical problems” pertain to doubt in ethical actions, ethical conflicts and ethical distress; “cultural problems” include organizational and social culture; and “managerial problems” are connected to organizational and staff-related issues.
    Nursing leaders put forth various aspects of the problems associated with ethical leadership in the clinical setting. This style of leadership could be promoted by developing suitable programs and providing clear-cut strategies for removing the current obstacles and correcting the organizational structure. This can lead to ethical improvement in nursing leaders and subsequently the nurses.

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    Ethical conflicts are recognized as critical aspects in assessing competence in clinical communication. Moreover, pediatrics residents may face more problems, compared to other disciplines; due to the specific characteristics of the age group receiving services as well as the presence of their families. This study has been conducted with the aim of determining the attitude and perspective of pediatric residents toward ethical conflicts in the field of pediatrics. This descriptive, cross-sectional study was carried out on all residents of Tehran University of Medical Sciences (90 residents), selected through census method, in 2014. The data collection tool was a 32-item research-based questionnaire. Its validity and reliability were confirmed by the researchers and the medical faculty members. To analyze data, descriptive and inferential statistics were used. However, based on the results, lack of an advanced directive and written procedure for withdrawing life-sustaining treatment of an incompetent or critically-ill child (4.38 ± 0.80), lack of provision of sufficient information on obtaining informed consent (4.12 ± 1.10), and the absence of a legal written process for doing not resuscitate (DNR) orders (3.98 ± 0.95) were the most salient causes of ethical conflicts in pediatrics. Furthermore, in accordance with the linear regression analysis of demographic characteristics, there was a significant relationship (P = 0.04, r = 0.046) between residents’ year of education and attitude toward ethical conflict; however, this relationship was not observed in other demographic characteristics. Taking the priorities of ethical conflicts in pediatrics into account may help improve the designing of medical ethics education programs in hospitals for residents, thereby reducing the conflicts related to the issues of medical ethics.

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    During medical training, students obtain enough skills and knowledge. However, medical ethics accomplishes its goals when, together with training medical courses, it guides students behavior towards morality so that ethics-oriented medical practice is internalized. Medical ethics is a branch of applied ethics which tries to introduce ethics into physicians’ practice and ethical decisions; thus, it necessitates the behavior to be ethical. Therefore, when students are being trained, they need to be supplied with those guidelines which turn ethical instructions into practice to the extent possible. The current text discusses the narrowing of the gap between ethical theory and practice, especially in the field of medical education.
    The current study was composed using analytical review procedures. Thus, classical ethics philosophy, psychology books, and related articles were used to select the relevant pieces of information about internalizing behavior and medical education. The aim of the present study was to propose a theory by analyzing the related articles and books.
    The attempt to fill the gap between medical theory and practice using external factors such as law has been faced with a great deal of limitations. Accordingly, the present article tries to investigate how and why medical training must take internalizing ethical instructions into consideration, and indicate the importance of influential internal factors.
    Virtue-centered education, education of moral emotions, changing and strengthening of attitudes through education, and the wise use of administrative regulations can be an effective way of teaching ethical practice in medicine.

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    Public health ethics is a field that covers both factual and ethical issues in health policy and science, and has positive obligations to improve the well-being of populations and reduce social inequalities. It is obvious that various philosophies and moral theories can differently shape the framework of public health ethics. For this reason, the present study reviewed theories of justice in order to analyze and criticize Iran’s general health policies document, served in 14 Articles in 2014. Furthermore, it explored egalitarianism as the dominant theory in the political philosophy of the country’s health care system. According to recent theories of justice, however, health policies must address well-being and its basic dimensions such as health, reasoning, autonomy, and the role of the involved agencies and social institutions in order to achieve social justice beyond distributive justice. Moreover, policy-making in the field of health and biomedical sciences based on Islamic culture necessitates a theory of social justice in the light of theological ethics. Educating people about their rights and duties, increasing their knowledge on individual agency, autonomy, and the role of the government, and empowering them will help achieve social justice. It is recommended to design and implement a strategic plan following each of these policies, based on the above-mentioned values and in collaboration with other sectors, to clarify the procedures in every case.

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    Medication adherence is a behavior that is influenced by several factors, and maintaining patients’ dignity is an important issue that needs to be considered in the course of treatment. The present study aimed to determine the relationship between human dignity and medication adherence in patients with heart failure. This was a cross-sectional study. A total number of 300 patients with heart failure admitted to the Mazandaran Heart Center, Iran, participated in this study by census. Samples were selected based on inclusion criteria such as an HF diagnosis by a cardiologist for a minimum of 6 months, and taking at least one cardiac medication. Data were collected through demographic, clinical, human dignity, and medication adherence questionnaires over a period of three months in 2016. This study was approved by the Ethics Committee of Mazandaran University of Medical Sciences. Consents were obtained from patients and the medical center, and necessary explanations were given about the confidentiality of information prior to completing the questionnaires. The mean score of medication adherence was 5.82 suggesting low medication adherence among the patients, and the mean score of human dignity was 81.39. There was a negative relationship between medication adherence and threat to human dignity (r = - 0.6, P < 0.001), i.e., the higher the scores of threat, the lower the medication adherence of the patients. After adjusting the effects of potential confounding variables, there still was a correlation between medication adherence and the variables of human dignity and its dimensions. Based on the findings, an increase in patients’ dignity can enhance medication adherence, which can theoretically improve patients’ health and reduce frequent hospitalization.

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    Ethical codes are instructions that shape ethical behavior and determine which values and beliefs should be accepted. These codes act as a practical guideline in the nursing profession. The present study aimed to compare adherence to ethical codes between the nursing students and working nurses of Valiasr Hospital, affiliated with Fasa University of Medical Sciences in Fars Province, Iran. In this descriptive-analytical study, the data collection tool was nurses’ self-reporting questionnaire on adherence to ethical codes devised by Mahdavi Lenji and Ghaedi Heidari, who have also confirmed its validity and reliability. This questionnaire consisted of 3 sections: personal information, ethical codes related to clinical service provision (23 items), and relationship with the treatment team (8 items). A total of 400 individuals (178 nursing students and 222 nurses) were selected through census sampling method. Data were analyzed through descriptive, ANOVA and t-test statistical methods using SPSS 22 software. There was no significant difference between nurses and nursing students in terms of adherence to ethical codes related to clinical service provision, but the latter achieved a significantly higher score in codes on relationship with the treatment team (P = 0.04). Although the score of nursing students was higher than nurses in comparison to the treatment team, they lacked the necessary technical competency to adhere to ethical codes. Therefore, we recommend that nursing instructors and educational managers pay more attention to teaching nursing ethics and supervise their implementation and practicality in clinical environments.

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    Air pollution is among the environmental problems that adversely affect people’s health. There is a close relationship between medicine and environment, and as a consequence, there are ethical considerations surrounding the problem of air pollution. The present research aimed to determine physicians’ attitude toward their ethical responsibility regarding air pollution, and their role in reducing it. This was a qualitative research using content analysis, conducted in Tehran University of Medical Sciences. The focus group included 21 physicians with specialties and subspecialties in pediatrics, infectious diseases, pulmonology, gynecology, and midwifery selected through predetermined sampling along with 13 personal in-depth interviews. A number of questions were asked regarding physicians’ ethical responsibility to decrease environmental crises, particularly air pollution.
    As a result, 4 themes and 20 subthemes were extracted by assessing the focus group and interviews. These four general themes included the role of a physician as 1) an ordinary person, 2) a special citizen and a role model, 3) a professional person with special personal and social commitments, and 4) an administrator of the healthcare system.
    In the present research, physicians acquired a special attitude toward air pollution.  The research population mentioned physicians’ impact as role models for the society, as well as their educational, supervisory, informative, promotional, and administrative roles among their most important obligations regarding air pollution. It is recommended to conduct further studies on physicians’ knowledge, attitude and practice regarding their responsibility toward environmental issues in order to investigate this important matter further.

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    The central role of the virtue of compassion in the shaping of the professional character of healthcare providers is a well-emphasized fact. On the other hand, the utmost obligation of physicians is to alleviate or eliminate human suffering. Traditionally, according to the Aristotelian understanding of virtues and virtue ethics, human virtues have been associated with masculinity. In recent decades, the founders of the ethics of care have introduced a set of virtues with feminine nature. This paper analyzes the notion of compassion as a common virtue between the traditional/masculine and care/feminine sets of virtues and shows that compassion is a reunion and merging point of both sets of human virtues. This role can be actualized through the development and promotion of compassion as an important part of the character of an ideal physician/healthcare provider. In addition, this paper argues that the notion of compassion can shed light on some important aspects of the contemporary debates on healthcare provider-patient relationship and medical futility. Despite the recent technological and scientific transformations in medicine, the interpersonal relationship between healthcare providers and patients still plays a vital role in pursuing the goals of healthcare. The virtue of compassion plays a central role in the establishment of a trust-based physician-patient relationship. This central role is discernible in the debate of medical futility in which making difficult decisions, depends largely on trust and rapport which are achievable by compassion in the physician and the recognition of this compassion by the patients and their surrogate decision makers.
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    One of the main issues in nursing education that teachers and students frequently encounter is uncivil behaviors. This type of behavior is destructive for the teaching and learning environment. As teachers play an important role in nursing students' education and are ultimately their role models, the identification of these behaviors in nursing teachers appears to be essential. This study was conducted to determine nursing students' perceptions of their teachers' uncivil behaviors.
    The present study was conducted using a qualitative approach and content analysis. A total of 13 nursing students were selected through purposive sampling, and deep and semi-structured interviews were conducted with them. Content analysis was performed using an inductive approach.
    Three main categories were obtained through data analysis; disruptive behaviors affecting communication climate (subthemes: humiliation, the lack of supportiveness, and distrust), disruptive behaviors affecting ethical climate (subthemes: self-centeredness, coercion and aggression, and harassment), and disruptive behaviors affecting learning climate (subthemes: poor teaching skills, poor time management, and indiscipline). Given that human dignity takes precedence over education, any action causing humiliation and embarrassment can have inverse effects on the students and may harm them. These behaviors taint the educational role. Since students select their teachers as their role models, the impact of teachers' uncivil behaviors on students cannot be neglected. Neglecting these behaviors might lead to their persistence in the clinical setting and irreparable damage to patients, who are the ultimate recipients of care.

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    Consanguineous marriage, which is common in many regions in the world,  has absorbed much attention as a causative factor in raising the incidence of genetic diseases. The adverse effects may be attributed to the expression of the genes received from common ancestors and mortality and morbidity of the offspring. Iran has a high rate of consanguineous marriages. In recent years genetic counseling has come to be considered in health care services. This cross-sectional study was conducted in order to determine the prevalence and types of consanguineous marriages in the genetic clinics in Isfahan. We aimed to define the different types of marriages, specific categories of genetic disorders associated with consanguineous marriages, and mode of inheritance in the family tree. We also narratively reviewed the ethical aspects of the issue.
    The data were collected using a simple questionnaire. A total number of 1535 couples from urban and rural areas formed the study population. The marriages were classified according to the degree of the relationship between couples, including: double cousin, first cousin, first cousin once removed, second cousin and beyond second cousin. The SPSS software version 16 was used for data analysis.
    Data obtained through genetic counseling offered during a 5-year period revealed that 74.3% had consanguineous relationships, 62.3% were first cousins, 1% were double cousins and 7.8% were second cousins. In addition, 76% of the couples had at least one genetic disease in their family tree. Related ethical issues were also considered in this study, including autonomy and informed decision making, benefit and harm assessment, confidentiality, ethics in research, justice in access to counseling services, financial problems ethics, and the intellectual property of scientific success.

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    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.

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    Nurses are continuously involved with ethical problems in their area of practice and need to possess a satisfactory level of moral sensitivity in order to be able to offer moral care. Additionally, they act as agents for proper management of ethical dilemmas and are therefore required to have high self-esteem. This study aimed to determine the correlation between moral sensitivity and self-esteem in nurses. In this descriptive-correlational research, sample study included 204 nursing personnel working in hospitals affiliated with Iran University of Medical Sciences. Participants were selected by convenience sampling. The data were collected using a demographic form, Lützén’s Moral Sensitivity Questionnaire, and Rosenberg’s Self-Esteem Questionnaire. Then, the data were analyzed using descriptive and analytical statistics. Written informed consent was obtained from each subject who participated in the research. The mean score for moral sensitivity of the samples was 69.15 ± 5.70, and 20.01 ± 4.76 for their self-esteem. Pearson’s correlation coefficient test indicated a meaningful and positive relationship between the two variables under study (r = 0.472 and P = 0.001). There was no correlation between the participants’ demographic data and moral sensitivity (P > 0.05), but a significant relationship was found between the participants' level of education and the variable self-esteem (P < 0.05). Since there was a positive and significant relationship between moral sensitivity and self-esteem among the nursing staff, nursing managers should focus on improving the quality of patient care by promoting nurses’ moral sensitivity inspired by high self-esteem.

Review Article(s)

Case Report(s)

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    Since patient safety is multidimensional and grounded in ethical and legal imperatives, both ethical and legal challenges should be taken into account. In this regard, a falling incident case of a 12-day-old newborn was raised in the monthly ethics round in the Children's Medical Center of Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Iran, and the ethical and legal dimensions of patient safety were discussed by experts in various fields.

    This report presents different aspects of patient safety in terms of root cause analysis (RCA) and risk management, the role of human resources, the role of professionalism, the necessity of informing the parents (disclosure of medical errors), and forensic medicine with focus on ethical aspects.