To investigate the current status of hospital clinical ethics committees (CEC) and how they have evolved in Canada over the past 20 years, this paper presents an overview of the findings from a 2008 survey and compares these findings with two previous Canadian surveys conducted in 1989 and 1984. All Canadian hospitals over 100 beds, of which at least some were acute care, were surveyed to determine the structure of CEC, how they function, the perceived achievements of these committees and opinions about areas with which CEC should be involved. The percentage of hospitals with CEC in our sample was found to be 85% compared with 58% and 18% in 1989 and 1984, respectively. The wide variation in the size of committees and the composition of their membership has continued. Meetings of CEC have become more regularised and formalised over time. CEC continue to be predominately advisory in their nature, and by 2008 there was a shift in the priority of the activities of CEC to meeting ethics education needs and providing counselling and support with less emphasis on advising about policy and procedures. More research is needed on how best to define what the scope of activities of CEC should be in order to meet the needs of hospitals in Canada and elsewhere. More research also is needed on the actual outcomes to patients, families, health professionals and organisations from the work of these committees in order to support the considerable time committee members devote to this endeavour.
- Clinical ethics committees
- ethics committees/consultation
- hospital ethics committees
Statistics from Altmetric.com
If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.
Funding This study received funding from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.
Competing interests None.
Ethics approval This study was conducted with the approval of the Memorial University Human Investigation Committee, St John's, Newfoundland, Canada.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.
Read the full text or download the PDF:
Other content recommended for you
- Consultation activities of clinical ethics committees in the United Kingdom: an empirical study and wake-up call
- Clinical bioethics integration, sustainability, and accountability: the Hub and Spokes Strategy
- The current state of clinical ethics and healthcare ethics committees in Belgium
- Education of ethics committee members: experiences from Croatia
- The Ethics Liaison Program: building a moral community
- Evaluating a clinical ethics committee (CEC) implementation process in an oncological research hospital: protocol for a process evaluation study using normalisation process theory (EvaCEC)
- The quality of bioethics debate: implications for clinical ethics committees
- Ethical advice in paediatric care
- Ethics consultation in paediatric and adult emergency departments: an assessment of clinical, ethical, learning and resource needs
- Importance of systematic deliberation and stakeholder presence: a national study of clinical ethics committees