Vol 14 (2021)

Original Article(s)

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    Nurses are faced with tremendous pressure when providing brain-dead patients with care. There is limited guidance for nurses on the care of these patients. The present study aimed to report the experiences of nurses regarding the care of patients diagnosed with brain death.Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 31 nurses and other stakeholders, and the observations and field notes were analyzed using continuous and comparative analysis based on grounded theory.The qualitative analysis of the data resulted in extraction of six final categories, including 'facing increased tensions and conflicts', 'organ donation: a distinct care element', 'inconsistency of care management', 'effective care requirements', 'challenges, rights and duty requirements', and 'moral obligation to provide holistic care until the last minute'. Data analysis identified 'Challenges, rights and duty requirements' as the main issue and showed that the nurses managed this issue using the strategy of 'moral obligation to provide holistic care until the last minute' as the core variable.According to the results, it is recommended that the healthcare system (especially hospital management) take supportive action for nurses in various fields of care of brain-dead patients to resolve educational, moral and legal challenges.


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    Nurses need to be resilient to be able to endure their working conditions, and their moral courage can affect their resilience. This work aimed at studying the relationship between resilience and professional moral courage among nurses working in hospitals.This descriptive cross-sectional study was conducted on 375 nurses working in teaching hospitals in the city of Ardabil in Iran in 2019. Data was collected using the following questionnaires: a demographic questionnaire, Sekerka et al. Moral Courage Scale and Davidson-Connor Resilience Scale. The reliability of the Davidson-Connor Resilience Scale, and Moral Courage Scale were found to be 89% and 85% using the test-retest method. The data were analyzed by Pearson correlation coefficient, t-test, variance analysis, and linear regression using the SPSS software version 24.In participating nurses, mean scores were 6.35±0.5 for total moral courage (favorable) and 79.35±0.35 (moderate) for resilience, respectively. A positive and significant relationship was observed between resilience and professional moral courage (P<0.05, r=0.1). Given the positive and significant relationship between resilience and professional moral courage, nurses require to have the high moral courage to enhance their resilience. Determining factors affecting moral courage and resilience, as well as finding strategies and creating an appropriate moral climate can increase nurses' morally courageous behaviors and resilience.

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    Providing care for terminally ill neonates is an important issue in NICUs. This research aimed to determine nurses’ attitudes toward providing care for terminally ill neonates and their families. A total of 138 nurses working in neonatal intensive care units (NICUs) affiliated to Tehran University of Medical Sciences participated in this cross-sectional study via convenience sampling in 2019. The Data collection tool was the Frommelt attitudes toward caring for terminally ill persons and their families scale. The nurses in this study had the most positive attitudes toward the items “nursing care should include the family of the terminally ill patient, too” (4.2 ± 0.6) and “the care provider can prepare the patient or his/her family for death” (4.1 ± 0.7). The nurses had the least positive attitude toward the item “the time spent on caring for terminally ill patients creates a sense of frustration in me” (1.06 ± 1). The mean score of the attitudes of NICU nurses toward caring for terminally ill neonates and their families indicates the necessity of improving this attitude.

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    Although ethics is an essential part of medical education, little attention has been paid to ethics education during the clerkship phase, where medical students observe how physicians make decisions regarding various ethical problems. Specific nuances and cultural contexts such as working in a rural setting can determine ethical issues raised. This phenomenology study aimed to explore ethical issues experienced by Indonesian students during clinical clerkship in a rural setting. In-depth interviews were used to explore students’ experiences. Participants were ten students, selected on gender and clerkship year variations. Data saturation was reached after eight interviews, followed by two additional interviews. Thematic analysis was used in this study, and trustworthiness was ensured through data and investigator triangulation, member checking, and audit trail. Three main themes found in this study were limited facilities and resources, healthcare financing and consent issues, as well as unprofessional behavior of healthcare providers. Many ethical issues related to substandard care were associated to limited resources and complexities within the healthcare system in the rural setting. Early exposure to recurrent ethical problems in healthcare can help students prepare for their future career as a physician in a rural setting.

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    This study was designed to facilitate freshman medical students’ adaptation to the dissection room and familiarize them with the related ethical codes. Single-group post-test design research was conducted at Tehran University of Medical Sciences in 2018 - 2019. The program began with a brief explanation of the necessity of the subject, and after a documentary film was shown, the principles of professional and ethical behaviors in the dissection room were discussed by a panel of experts. In the end, a valid and reliable evaluation questionnaire (Cronbach's alpha coefficient = 0.89) was distributed among the students. A total of 129 questionnaires were completed and returned. Overall, 94.4% of the students believed that the program provided an excellent opportunity to reflect on professional behaviors during practical anatomy sessions. In addition, 92.8% of the students believed that they would use the ethical points mentioned in the program in the future. Content analysis of the open questions produced three main categories: "motivating learning", "application of theory in practice" and "changing the attitude toward responsibility". The results indicate that adequate preparation for cadaver dissection sessions and learning about professional behavior codes in the first exposure can help medical students to better understand the principles of professional behaviors.  

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    High ideal hybrid intelligence of managers is among the factors that can improve employees’ organizational commitment. Therefore, this study aimed to determine the relationship between managers’ ideal hybrid intelligence and employees’ organizational commitment in the Vice Chancellors’ Headquarters of Tehran University of Medical Sciences. This was a descriptive-analytical and cross-sectional study conducted in 2017 - 2018. The research sample size consisted of 86 senior and middle-level managers selected through census method, as well as 181 employees, selected using the Kerjecie and Morgan table. The research tool was an ideal hybrid intelligence questionnaire consisting of 102 questions on cultural, moral and spiritual intelligence, and also Meyer and Allens’ organizational commitment questionnaire including 24 questions. Face validity and reliability of each questionnaire were confirmed by an expert panel and Chronbach’s alpha method. The data were analyzed by SPSS software, and descriptive results were shown through mean and standard deviation, and analytical results by inferential tests. The results showed that the ideal hybrid intelligence of the Vice Chancellors’ Headquarters managers and employees’ organizational commitment were at a desirable level. Also, there was a significant correlation between cultural, moral and spiritual intelligence as constituents of the ideal hybrid intelligence of managers and employees’ organizational commitment. We found that ideal hybrid intelligence may affect employees’ organizational commitment, but it should be mentioned that other forms of intelligence may also affect organizational commitment.

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    Values ​​predispose people to make the right and especially ethical decisions, and are important for good performance in medical sciences. Students’ lived experiences and the value-rich exposures during their education are some effective means of achieving professional values that help them build their own value frameworks. In this phenomenology of practice study, we aimed to explore and describe the lived experiences of a sample of medical students in Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences regarding their value-rich exposures. In-depth interviews, students’ written stories, recorded video interviews related to past trips and photographs were used to collect data. The data was analyzed based on Van Manen’s thematic analysis method. Five themes emerged from the data: “in the shadow of a supportive mentor”, “a well-orchestrated, value-rich program”, “human interactions in a value system”, “acquiring values in a real-life environment”, “and seeking values in oneself”. Our study identified different dimensions of value-rich exposure based on the lived experiences of medical students and pointed out some issues that medical education planners can consider to improve the quality of value-based education for medical students.

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    This study was conducted to develop and validate an instrument to measure the medical professionalism climate in clinical settings. The item pool was developed based on the Tehran University of Medical Sciences Guideline for Professional Conduct. The items were distributed between two questionnaires, one for health-care providers and the other for patients. To assess the construct validity of the questionnaires, 350 health-care providers and 88 patients were enrolled in the study. The reliability of the questionnaires was evaluated by calculating Cronbach’s alpha and ICC.

    At first a 74-item pool was generated. After assessing and confirming face and content validity, 41 items remained in the final version of the scale. Exploratory factor analysis revealed the three factors of “personal behavior”, “collegiality” and “respect for patient autonomy” in a 25-item questionnaire for service providers and a single factor of “professional behavior” in a 6-item questionnaire for patients. The three factors explained 51.775% of the variance for service providers’ questionnaire and the single factor explained 63.9% of the variance for patients’ questionnaire.

    The findings demonstrated that from the viewpoints of patients and service providers, this instrument could be applied to assess the medical professionalism climate in hospital clinical settings.

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    Due to the unique nature of the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) and its moral distress, this study aimed to investigate moral distress in the NICU. This cross-sectional study was conducted on 234 physicians and nurses working in the neonatal wards of eight hospitals. The Corley’s Moral Distress Scale was used to collect data. Findings showed that 25 of the participants were physicians and 209 were nurses. The intensity and frequency of distress among physicians and nurses were assessed as moderate. The mean intensity and frequency of moral distress among nurses and physicians were 48.3%, 41.5% and 46.46%, 15.62% respectively. The results showed that the mean intensity and frequency of distress were higher, however not significantly, among nurses. The intensity and frequency of moral distress had a statistically significant and direct correlation with the intention to leave and the number of staff in each working shift among the nurses. Moral distress in the NICU practitioners was moderate, so addressing this issue and trying to alleviate it was important. Identifying the causes behind moral distress can help adopt appropriate measures to prevent and reduce them.

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    Although conscience, as an ethical concept, has emerged widely in the field of nursing, its functional meaning and its effects on nurses' performance are not clear. Therefore, the present study aimed to analyze the concept of conscience in the context of Iranian nurses’ ethical performance.  This study used a hybrid model including theoretical, fieldwork, and final analytic stages. In the theoretical phase, English and Persian articles published up to 2020 and indexed by scientific databases were analyzed. In the fieldwork phase, semi-structured in-depth interviews were conducted on nurse participants. The last two stages were jointly considered to draw the study’s conclusions. In the theoretical phase, conscience was considered as a context-dependent concept, an inner voice, and a criterion for distinguishing right from wrong. The fieldwork phase’ results were categorized into three themes: “perception of conscience”, “commands of conscience”, and “obedience to conscience. The final definition was reached by merging the theoretical and field stages. This article aimed at investigating the relevance of conscience to ethical practice in the nursing field. Findings show that conscience is an inner feeling or voice that plays a vital role in providing ethical care by nurses.  

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    Medical professionalism has a crucial role in educating medical students. The role of professionalism in the clinical environment is therefore an important factor in medical education. This study attempts to evaluate the opinions of medical students in the teaching hospitals of Tehran University of Medical Sciences (TUMS) about the professionalism environment in this university.

    A sample of 165 students filled out the Persian translation of UMKC-SOM (Climate of Professionalism Survey) questionnaire. This instrument evaluates students’ perspectives on the degree of adherence to professionalism by faculty, residents and other students.

    The results of the study revealed that the total score of professionalism climate was 53.9 for faculty, 42.09 for residents, and 50.76 for students and the difference between these three groups was statistically significant (p-value < 0.01). Results of further analysis through post-hoc tests for multiple comparisons among the groups revealed that the students found their fellow students and faculty more professional than residents. The study also showed that the medical ethics course had no impact on perceptions observations (p-values > 0.05).The study results also revealed that the students found their fellow students and faculty more professional than residents. This finding demonstrates the importance of teaching professionalism to residents since they serve as role models for students.Further multicenter studies are needed to improve the professionalism climate in the medical teaching environment.  

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    During March and April 2020, the number of hospital admissions and deaths due to the first wave of COVID-19 peaked. The objective of this study was to analyse the experiences of a team of health professionals in charge of breaking bad news over the telephone to the relatives of patients admitted to the respiratory ward of a large hospital in Barcelona.

    This was a qualitative research based on semi-structured individual interviews with all the members of the team and a group interview. The interviews were analysed using Condensation of Meaning techniques.

    Three central themes emerged after analysing the interviews: (1) the call itself, (2) the need for good organisational support both before and during a crisis, and (3) the care that the professionals themselves need.

    To set up a large-scale operation to break bad news over the phone, some organisational aspects must be considered that go beyond the call itself. All these aspects are interrelated to a large extent, and due attention should be given to proper communication and adequate care practices for both relatives and health workers.

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    Compassion is a basic approach to medical practice and is the core component of health care. The purpose of the present study was to explore nurses' perceptions of compassion-based care (CBC) for COVID-19 patients. In this qualitative study, the participants were selected using purposeful sampling. Individual and semi-structured interviews were conducted with 25 nurses, and conventional content analysis was used to categorize the data. In the care of COVID-19 patients, CBC consisted of three categories including pro-social behaviors, paying attention to the beliefs and values ​​of patients, and concern for family members. The first category had three subcategories including empathy, altruism, and helping in critical situations. The second category included the subcategories of the spiritual approach to care and respect for cultural aspects. The third category, concern for family members, had one subcategory: the need to consider the patient's family. Our findings may help to develop a comprehensive model in COVID-19 care according to which, in addition to routine patient care, nurses will consider concepts such as empathy, altruism, helping in critical situations, spirituality, cultural values, ​​and the family’s needs at the end of the patient's life.

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    Improving ethical practice needs recognizing the relationship between moral reasoning and moral courage among nurses. We examined factors (moral reasoning, practical consideration, moral dilemmas familiarity, and demographic and work characteristics) associated with moral courage among nurses. A cross-sectional design was run at all five hospitals affiliated to Hamadan University of Medical Sciences in west of Iran. A proportionate random sampling due to the total size of the nurse population in each hospital, 224 eligible nurses were completed the study questionnaires: demographic-work characteristics, Professional Moral Courage (PMC), and Nursing Dilemma Test. The relationships were examined by multiple regression analysis. Participants reported a more than moderate level of moral reasoning and PMC (43.21±5.98 and 56.16±10.18 respectively). The multivariate model showed the nurses’ PMC is positively predisposed with moral reasoning (β=0.21, p<0.01), but negatively with practical consideration (β=-0.16, p<0.01). More moral courage was found in the nurses who were never married (p<0.001), graduated from a public university (p<0.01), working in the critical care and emergency environments, as well as night shifts (all p<0.001). Moral reasoning is a predictor of moral courage, and both should be considered in designing nursing education to improve ethical nursing practice.

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    Narrative medicine (NM) is an educational tool that can be used to promote the professional competencies of medical students. This study aimed to investigate Iranian medical students’ perceptions of the first NM program offered in 2019.

    The study was conducted on 69 medical interns who participated in the weekly NM program that was part of the professional ethics course for two months. We used a questionnaire to determine medical interns' perceptions and personal attitudes toward NM. Three experts confirmed the validity of the questionnaire in Persian, and its reliability was verified by internal consistency (α = 0.879). The independent t-test was used to compare the differences in the total scores of students' perceptions. Data analysis was conducted using SPSS 23 software (P < 0.05). The response rate to the questionnaire was 95.65%. The results showed overall students' perceptions of the program were found to be positive. Furthermore, the scores showed a significant difference in terms of gender (P = 0.014), but none in terms of marital status (P = 0.936). According to the results, NM was effective in improving students’ reflections and their empathy with patients. Therefore, it is recommended to include NM in professional ethics education.

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    The policies of health systems are inspired by ethical priorities. A critical review of policies can reveal the ethical theories/justice schools behind them. This study aimed to identify the ethical theory(ies) underpinning the Iranian health system governance over the past 50 years.

    This was a qualitative study conducted in two stages during 2019. First, we identified and constructed the key concepts and distinctive notions of prominent ethical theories/justice schools. Then, we spotted and selected 24 strategic laws and policy documents in the Iranian health system governance during the past 50 years and analyzed their content to surmise their underlying ethical theory. The results showed that the dominant theory affecting the policies of the Iranian health system governance over the past 50 years was egalitarian liberalism and then objective utilitarianism and relativist communitarianism. Retrospective empirical application of ethical theories to health system governance is methodologically doable, and this application reveals the mood or priorities of the politics. Also, highlighting the underpinning ethical theories of health system governance as well as the gap between ambitions versus realization are insightful and may prospectively empower and strengthen egalitarianism  

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    In this paper, the evolution of the ethics committees for health research, their history, membership, and function in China and Australia is described. Investigators in each country compared the history and governance of their ethical systems based on the published evidence rather than personal opinions. Similarly, examples of challenges were selected from the literature. In both countries, the aim was to maximize the social benefits of research and minimize the risk imposed on the participants. Common challenges include maintaining independence, funding and delivering timely ethical reviews of the research projects. These challenges can be difficult where research ethics committees rely on voluntary contributions and lack a strong resource base. They must adapt to the increasingly rapid pace of research as well as the technological sophistication.  Population health research can challenge the conventional views of consent and privacy. The principles of the sound ethical review are common in both countries; governance arrangements and operational procedures, however, can differ, reflecting the cultural values and norms of their host countries and in respect of legal environments. By studying the evolution and function of ethics committees in the two countries, we established the differences in the governance and health systems, while similar ethical objectives helped sustain collaborative research.

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    Medical ethics faces several challenges in different aspects of education, research, and treatment in medicine and healthcare practice. Design and implementation of a national strategic plan can pave the way for the development of a roadmap in various countries to strengthen ethics and address these challenges.

    To create a comprehensive plan compatible with the Iranian healthcare system, a multidisciplinary team of main stakeholders compiled a national strategic plan of medical ethics following several focus group discussion sessions and two workshops (2014-2017). Ultimately, the plan was confirmed by the Supreme Council for the Medical Ethics of the Ministry of Health and Medical Education.

    The current paper is a national report of the process and the medical ethics strategic plan in Iran. We have also tracked signs of progress and achievements in the country.

    In conclusion, this valuable effort has led to significant success in the implementation of medical ethics in clinical medicine, medical research, and education by using all the resources in our country. The participation of all the stakeholders, especially healthcare professionals in this way is required.   

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    Telemedicine can improve access to healthcare services; however, it has raised ethical concerns demanding special considerations. This study aimed at developing the codes of ethics for telemedicine, and hence several approved national and international ethical guidelines related to telemedicine practice were reviewed, and 48 semi-structured interviews were conducted with medical ethics and medical informatics experts as well as with physicians and patients who had telemedicine experiences. Content analysis was then performed on the interviews’ transcripts and a draft on code of ethics was prepared, which was further reviewed by the experts in the focus group meetings to reach a consensus on the final document. The final document consisted of a preface, five considerations, and 25 ethical statements. Considering the growing trend of adopting telemedicine worldwide, this document provides an ethical framework for those who use telemedicine in their medical practice.

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    It appears that up until now, no comprehensive tool has been developed to assess medical students’ attitudes toward the different dimensions of professionalism. The present study aimed to develop a comprehensive quantitative tool to evaluate medical students’ attitudes toward professionalism. This study consisted of two phases: The first phase was item generation and questionnaire design based on literature review and a qualitative survey. The qualitative data were extracted from 49 semi-structured individual interviews and one focus group discussion. In the second phase, the questionnaire was developed and its face, content, and structure validity and reliability were evaluated. To measure the construct validity of the questionnaire, a cross-sectional study was conducted on 354 medical students at different academic levels at Isfahan University of Medical Sciences. The final questionnaire was loaded on five factors. The factors accounted for 43.5% of the total variance. Moreover, Cronbach's alpha was 0.84 for the total scale, and the interclass correlation coefficient was 0.77 for the test-retest reliability. The 17-item questionnaire measuring medical students’ professional attitude had acceptable validity and reliability and can be adopted in other studies on physicians’ and medical students’ professional attitudes.

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    Medical ethics committees play an important role in examining and resolving ethical problems in hospitals by developing ethical guidelines and making ethical decisions. This study aimed at investigating the challenges that these committees typically face.This qualitative phenomenological study was conducted in 2020. Data was collected through semi-structured interviews with purposive sampling and participation of 19 ethics committees’ members in Tehran hospitals. Then, data were analyzed by the content analysis method using MAXQDA-10 software. Challenges of hospital ethics committees were classified into three main themes including external factors, intra-organizational factors, and ethics committee structure, in addition to six sub-themes including inadequate supervision, lack of instructions, organizational culture, human resources, nature of the committee, and ineffectiveness of committees’ decisions.Since many challenges are faced by ethics committees, plans should be developed and implemented to fulfill the following purposes: (i) strengthen the position of these committees in hospitals, (ii) continuous supervision over the formation and holding of the committees, (iii) their operation process, (iv) their decision-making process, and (v) process of sharing committees’ decisions with all hospital stakeholders and staff.

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    The controversial role of ethics in clinical education and its ability to draw the attention of a large audience is inevitable. The issues and challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic have transformed the clinical education environment. This study was conducted to explore the challenges and ethical requirements of medical sciences education during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. The study was qualitative research and the instrument was a semi-structured interview. The participants included faculty members of the basic and clinical Sciences at Iran University of Medical Sciences. After 16 rounds of interviews, theoretical saturation was achieved. Qualitative data were analysed using conventional content analysis, which resulted in 81 preliminary codes and 28 sub-categories. Finally, two themes of "ethical challenges" and "ethical requirements", and 10 categories were achieved. The sub-categories were consisted of "being patient-centred", "social accountability of curriculums", "ethical challenges of the clinical environment", "the poor performance of the clinical faculty members and students", "being justice-centred", "raising awareness", "observing clinical research ethics", "preservation and promotion of mental health", "patient confidentiality", and "respect for individuals". We hope the ethical challenges in medical education that were created due to the emergence of Covid-19 can be reduced and eliminated by defining a framework for ethical requirements.

Review Article(s)

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    One important part of a nurse’s job is to create and help maintain a safe work environment. Evidence shows that negative behaviors such as incivility are not uncommon in the nursing profession. This systematic review and meta-analysis aimed to examine the prevalence of incivility toward nurses. 
    For this purpose, all observational studies that primarily investigated the rate of incivility toward nurses were selected. The electronic databases PubMed, Embase, Web of Sciences, Magiran, IranDoc, and Scopus were searched for studies published during the period of January 1, 1996 to December 31, 2019. The quality of studies was assessed using Hoy’s Critical Assessment Checklist. The study was undertaken using the random effects model, and data were analyzed using STATA14. 
    Data on 60 articles, including data on 30801 individuals, published between 1997 and 2019, entered the study. The findings showed the prevalence of incivility to be 55.10% (95%, CI: 48.05, 62.06).

    Due to the high prevalence of uncivil behavior, especially of the verbal type, nursing managers should identify risk factors in the workplace. Planners should develop programs to increase workplace safety, especially in centers that are most exposed to these behaviors. It is also recommended that future studies focus on implementation of effective evidence-based interventions based on organizational culture.

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    Protection of patients' rights is critical in improving healthcare quality, and hence this study aimed at reviewing patient rights’ practices in healthcare organizations of Iran. Using systematic search, this review was conducted based on Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis Protocols (PRISMA-P). Several keywords, including "patient rights", "patient bills of rights" and "patients rights’ charter" were searched bilingually in the databases of SID, Magiran, PubMed, Scopus, and Web of Science from 2010 to 2021, and then, following a three-tier screening using the Critical Appraisal Skills Program (CASP) checklists, 76 articles were extracted. The degree of compliance with the Patients' Rights Charter (PRC) in healthcare organizations was 60.88% on average. As to the observance of the PRC dimensions, respectively, the highest and lowest scores were related to the "right to privacy and confidentiality" (70.16%) and "right to access an efficient complaining system" (53.01 %). Respect for patients' rights in organizations was assessed at a moderate level, and some aspects of patients' rights should be attended to immediately. Therefore, discrepancies in the dimensions of patients' rights and their implementation by organizations should be on the agenda of healthcare managers and policymakers.

Case Report(s)

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    Cancer patients are interested in complementary and alternative therapies. Providing complementary therapies to them should be based on the four principles of medical ethics. Ignoring these principles creates many ethical challenges in treating these patients. Shared decision-making between physician and patient is essential for the choice of complementary therapies. The use of complementary medicine that does not have the evidence on effectiveness causes that shared decision-making is not based on precise information, and therefore, patient autonomy is not achieved. When the conventional treatment of a cancer patient is replaced by a treatment for which there is no evidence of effectiveness, the principle of beneficence is violated. Failure to follow the basic standards of care in the provision of complementary medicine causes the patient to face profound side effects, indicating a lack of compliance with the principle of nonmaleficence. In the moral analysis of two patients’ treatment, we encounter violations of the principles of medical ethics. The traditional doctor must fully observe the principles of medical ethics in caring for their patients. The need for this is especially significant in patients with complex and severe disease.