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How do healthcare professionals manage ethical challenges regarding information in healthcare professional/patient clinical interactions? A review of concept- or argument-based articles and case analyses

C Ewuoso, S Hall, K Dierickx

Abstract


Background. This study forms part of an ongoing research project that seeks to enhance the information-management skills of health professionals within the clinical context.

Objectives. To review case analyses and reviews and argument-based articles that use evidence and facts to prove whether or not a thesis is true. Specifically, this study attempts to provide a comprehensive overview of how health professionals manage information and related ethical challenges within the clinical context.

Method. We carried out a literature search in PubMed and PhilPapers, using two search strings. All searches generated 954 hits. After screenings for year of publication, language, title and abstracts, duplicates and full-text reading, three more articles were identified following a system update in PubMed. A total of 53 articles were finally included for review. We used the Q-sort technique for the analysis of identified articles.

Results. This review of concept- or argument-based articles and case analyses shows that there are five broad types of challenges – communication related, confidentiality related, professional-duty related, value-differences related and treatment-plan related; and four broad strategies – consultation, negotiating differences, using professional/prudential judgement and striving towards resolution – for managing these ethical challenges, in 21 fields of practice within the clinical context.

Conclusion. This study greatly complements efforts aimed at providing a comprehensive overview of how health professionals manage information and related ethical challenges within the clinical context. Specifically, this study has identified four broad suggested strategies which may be employed to address the different challenges that can act as obstacles to communication within the clinical context. Further research is, however, needed to study whether these suggested strategies would indeed enhance communication and fiduciary relations between health professionals and patients. 


Authors' affiliations

C Ewuoso, Centre for Applied Ethics, Department of Philosophy, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Stellenbosch University, Cape Town, South Africa

S Hall, Centre for Applied Ethics, Department of Philosophy, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Stellenbosch University, Cape Town, South Africa

K Dierickx, Centre for Biomedical Ethics and Law, Department of Public Health and Primary Care, Faculty of Medicine, KU Leuven, Belgium

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Cite this article

South African Journal of Bioethics and Law 2017;10(2):75-82. DOI:10.7196/SAJBL.2017.v10i2.00610

Article History

Date submitted: 2017-12-20
Date published: 2017-12-20

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