Perceptions of Autonomy, Privacy and Informed Consent in the Care of Elderly People in Five European Countries: general overview

Nursing Ethics 10 (1):18-27 (2003)
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Abstract

Ethical issues in the care of elderly people have been identified in many countries. We report the findings of a comparative research project funded by the European Commission, which took place between 1998 and 2001. The project explored the issues of autonomy (part I), privacy (part II) and informed consent (part III) in nursing practice. Data were collected from elderly residents/patients (n = 573) and nursing staff (n = 887) in five European countries: Finland, Spain, Greece, Germany and the UK (Scotland). Questionnaires were used as the data collection tool (self-completion questionnaires for staff, structured interviews for the elderly participants). Four basic nursing interventions in the care of elderly people were targeted: hygiene, fluid intake and nutrition, medication, and elimination. The data were analysed statistically. The results indicated differences within all five countries between staff and patient perceptions of autonomy, privacy and informed consent. There were also similar differences between individual countries. Conclusions were reached concerning practice, education and research. This is the first of a set of five articles published together in this issue of Nursing Ethics in which the results of this comparative research project are presented

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