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Teaching ethics in the clinic. The theory and practice of moral case deliberation
  1. A C Molewijk1,2,
  2. T Abma1,
  3. M Stolper1,
  4. G Widdershoven1
  1. 1
    Department of Health, Ethics and Society/Metamedica Faculty of Health, Medicine and Life Sciences School for Public Health and Primary Care (Caphri), Maastrict University, Maastrict, The Netherlands
  2. 2
    GGNet, Institute for Mental Health Care, Warnsveld, The Netherlands
  1. A C Molewijk, Department of Health, Ethics and Society/Metamedica Faculty of Health, Medicine and Life Sciences School for Public Health and Primary Care (Caphri), Maastrict University, PO Box 616, 6200 MD, Maastrict, The Netherlands; b.molewijk{at}zw.unimaas.nl

Abstract

A traditional approach to teaching medical ethics aims to provide knowledge about ethics. This is in line with an epistemological view on ethics in which moral expertise is assumed to be located in theoretical knowledge and not in the moral experience of healthcare professionals. The aim of this paper is to present an alternative, contextual approach to teaching ethics, which is grounded in a pragmatic-hermeneutical and dialogical ethics. This approach is called moral case deliberation. Within moral case deliberation, healthcare professionals bring in their actual moral questions during a structured dialogue. The ethicist facilitates the learning process by using various conversation methods in order to find answers to the case and to develop moral competencies. The case deliberations are not unique events, but are a structural part of the professional training on the work floor within healthcare institutions. This article presents the underlying theory on (teaching) ethics and illustrates this approach with an example of a moral case deliberation project in a Dutch psychiatric hospital. The project was evaluated using the method of responsive evaluation. This method provided us with rich information about the implementation process and effects the research process itself also lent support to the process of implementation.

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  • Competing interests: None.

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