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Elements of human dignity in healthcare settings: the importance of the patient's perspective
  1. Alireza Bagheri
  1. Correspondence to Assistant Professor Alireza Bagheri, Department of Medical Ethics, Center for Medical Ethics, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, 23 Azar 16 Street, Tehran 146578, Islamic Republic of Iran; bagheria{at}

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To explore the application of patient dignity in clinical settings in Iran, Torabizadeh and her colleagues interviewed 20 hospitalised patients during an 11-month period in three public educational hospitals.1

Human dignity has been referenced and emphasised in many international documents—for instance, article 3 of the UNESCO Universal Declaration on Bioethics and Human Rights states that ‘human dignity, human rights and fundamental freedoms are to be fully respected’.2 However, none of the international documents have clearly defined the concept of human dignity, and there is no consensus on its definition and no clarity in its application.

There is an integral relationship between respect for the dignity and the vulnerability of persons.3 In healthcare settings, patients are uniquely vulnerable, and they depend on the skills, judgement and good will of the healthcare providers. There are no guidelines for healthcare providers to safeguard individual patients’ dignity. In practice, attending to patients’ notions of human dignity in healthcare settings and their experience in hospital can help healthcare providers to understand this controversial concept through patients’ eyes.

The qualitative study carried out by Torabizadeh et al, in Iran, elaborates some elements of respect for patients’ dignity based …

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  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; internally peer reviewed.

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