Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Training clinical ethics committee members between 1992 and 2017: systematic scoping review
  1. Yun Ting Ong1,2,
  2. Nicholas Yue Shuen Yoon1,2,
  3. Hong Wei Yap1,3,
  4. Elijah Gin Lim1,2,
  5. Kuang Teck Tay1,2,
  6. Ying Pin Toh4,
  7. Annelissa Chin5,
  8. Lalit Kumar Radha Krishna1,6
  1. 1 Division of Supportive and Palliative Care, National Cancer Centre Singapore, Singapore, Singapore
  2. 2 Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, National University of Singapore, Singapore, Singapore
  3. 3 Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, Singapore
  4. 4 Family Medicine Residency, National University Health System, Singapore, Singapore
  5. 5 Medical Library, National University of Singapore Libraries, National University of Singapore, Singapore, Singapore
  6. 6 Palliative Care Institute Liverpool, Academic Palliative & End of Life Care Centre, University of Liverpool, Liverpool, UK
  1. Correspondence to Ms Yun Ting Ong, Division of Supportive and Palliative Care, National Cancer Centre Singapore, Singapore 169610, Singapore; yunting.ong08{at}


Introduction Clinical ethics committees (CECs) support and enhance communication and complex decision making, educate healthcare professionals and the public on ethical matters and maintain standards of care. However, a consistent approach to training members of CECs is lacking. A systematic scoping review was conducted to evaluate prevailing CEC training curricula to guide the design of an evidence-based approach.

Methods Arksey and O’Malley’s methodological framework for conducting scoping reviews was used to evaluate prevailing accounts of CEC training published in six databases. Braun and Clarke’s thematic analysis approach was adopted to thematically analyse data across different healthcare and educational settings.

Results 7370 abstracts were identified, 92 full-text articles were reviewed and 55 articles were thematically analysed to reveal four themes: the design, pedagogy, content and assessment of CEC curricula.

Conclusion Few curricula employ consistent approaches to training. Many programmes fail to provide CEC trainees with sufficient knowledge, skills and experience to meet required competencies. Most programmes do not inculcate prevailing sociocultural, research, clinical and educational considerations into training processes nor provide longitudinal support for CEC trainees. Most CEC training programmes are not supported by host institutions threatening the sustainability of the programme and compromising effective assessment and longitudinal support of CEC trainees. While further reviews are required, this review underlines the need for host organisations to support and oversee a socioculturally appropriate ethically sensitive, clinically relevant longitudinal training, assessment and support process for CEC trainees if CECs are to meet their roles effectively.

  • clinical ethics committees
  • ethics consultation
  • healthcare ethics committee
  • ethicist
  • medical ethics

Statistics from

Request Permissions

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.


  • Contributors YTO, NYSY, HWY, EGL, KTT, YPT, AC, LKRK were involved in the conception and design of this study, data acquisition, analysis and interpretation of data and writing of the publication.

  • Funding This work was carried out as part of the Palliative Medicine Initiative run by the Department of Supportive and Palliative Care at the National Cancer Centre Singapore.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.