Journal of Medical Ethics 34 (6):472-477 (2008)

Background: Publications and discussions of survey research in empirical bioethics have steadily increased over the past two decades. However, findings often differ among studies with similar research questions. As a consequence, ethical reasoning that considers only parts of the existing literature and does not apply systematic reviews tends to be biased. To date, we lack a systematic review (SR) methodology that takes into account the specific conceptual and practical challenges of empirical bioethics. Methods: The steps of systematically reviewing empirical findings in bioethics are presented and critically discussed. In particular, (a) the limitations of traditional SR methodologies in the field of empirical bioethics are critically discussed, and (b) conceptual and practical recommendations for SRs in empirical bioethics that are (c) based on the authors’ review experiences in healthcare ethics are presented. Results: A 7-step approach for SRs of empirical bioethics is proposed: (1) careful definition of review question; (2) selection of relevant databases; (3) application of ancillary search strategies; (4) development of search algorithms; (5) relevance assessment of the retrieved references; (6) quality assessment of included studies; and (7) data analysis and presentation. Conceptual and practical challenges arise because of various peculiarities in reviewing empirical bioethics literature and can lead to biased results if they are not taken into account. Conclusions: If suitably adapted to the peculiarities of the field, SRs of empirical bioethics provide transparent information for ethical reasoning and decision-making that is less biased than single studies.
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1136/jme.2007.021709
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 57,077
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

Empirical Research in Bioethical Journals. A Quantitative Analysis.P. Borry - 2006 - Journal of Medical Ethics 32 (4):240-245.

View all 7 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

How to Write a Systematic Review of Reasons.Daniel Strech & Neema Sofaer - 2012 - Journal of Medical Ethics 38 (2):121-126.
Systematic Reviews in Bioethics: Types, Challenges, and Value.R. Mcdougall - 2014 - Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 39 (1):89-97.

View all 14 citations / Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Bioethics Around the Globe.Catherine Myser (ed.) - 2011 - Oxford University Press.
What Can History Do for Bioethics?Duncan Wilson - 2013 - Bioethics 27 (4):215-223.
On the Nature and Sociology of Bioethics.Mark Sheehan & Michael Dunn - 2013 - Health Care Analysis 21 (1):54-69.
The Role of Empirical Research in Bioethics.Alexander A. Kon - 2009 - American Journal of Bioethics 9 (6-7):59-65.
For Bioethics—The Role of Empirical Research.Liva H. Jacoby - 2006 - American Journal of Bioethics 6 (3):58-59.
Empirical Bioethics: Present and Future Possibilities.Wayne Shelton - 2009 - American Journal of Bioethics 9 (6-7):74-75.
What Empirical Research Can Do for Bioethics.Barry Hoffmaster & Cliff Hooker - 2009 - American Journal of Bioethics 9 (6-7):72-74.


Added to PP index

Total views
33 ( #311,939 of 2,411,498 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
1 ( #538,999 of 2,411,498 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes