Ethics education and value prioritization among members of U.s. Hospital ethics committees

Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal 14 (4):395-406 (2004)
Abstract
: Calls for ethics education for members of hospital ethics committees presume that the effects and benefits of such education are well-established. This is not the case. A review of the literature reveals that studies consistently have failed to uncover any significant effect of ethics education on the moral reasoning, moral competency, and/or moral development of medical professionals. The present paper discusses this negative result and describes the author's national study of the value priorities of members of hospital ethics committees. This study discovered correlations between moral decision making and factors like age and type of institution where the committee operates. The results of this study also resemble those of previous studies in finding no correlation between ethics education and moral decision making. The author concludes that there is a need for more research on the effects of nonmoral personal, societal, and institutional factors on the moral reasoning of members of hospital ethics committees. Further, in the absence of any firm empirical basis, calls for ethics education for medical professionals and ethics committee members should be rethought
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