In contrast to most Western countries, routine offer of prenatal screening is considered problematic in the Netherlands. The main argument against offering it to every pregnant woman is that women would be brought into a moral dilemma when deciding whether to use screening or not. This paper explores whether the active offer of a prenatal screening test indeed confronts women with a moral dilemma. A qualitative study was developed, based on a randomised controlled trial that aimed to assess the decision-making (...) process of women when confronted with a test offer. A sample of 59 women was interviewed about the different factors balanced in decision-making. Participants felt themselves caught between a need for knowledge and their unwillingness to take on responsibility. Conflict was reported between wishes, preferences and ethical views regarding parenthood; however, women did not seem to be caught in a choice between two or more ethical principles. Participants balanced the interests of the family against that of the fetus in line with their values and their personal circumstances. Therefore, we conclude that they are not so much faced with an ethical dilemma as conflicting interests. We propose that caregivers should provide the opportunity for the woman to discuss her wishes and doubts to facilitate her decision. This approach would help women to assess the meaning of testing within their parental duties towards their unborn child and their current offspring. (shrink)
Appeals to the moral authority of nature play an important role in ethical discussions about the acceptability of prenatal testing. While opponents consider testing a dangerous violation of the moral inviolable course of nature, defenders see testing as a new step in improving dominion over nature. In this study we explored the meaning of appeals to nature among pregnant women to whom a prenatal screening test was offered and the impact of these appeals on their choices regarding the acceptance of (...) screening. Contrary to theoretical debates we found that appeals to the moral authority of nature do not prevent women from welcoming the possibilities of controlling the outcomes of pregnancy, neither do they provide prima facie justification for (not) intervening in the natural course of events. Both acceptors and decliners believed in an inherent morality in nature that must be respected. They welcome the possibility of knowing more about the health of the fetus and to make their own reproductive decisions. Concerns for the quality of their child's life and for their capacity to assure a good life for their family and disabled child appear to play a central role in the decision regarding the use of screening. Appeals to nature can be interpreted as an attempt to justify beliefs regarding suffering that must be avoided and the impact that family interests may have on the decision. These findings have significant implications for ethical guidance in debates about the acceptability and boundaries of control of offspring characteristics by prenatal testing. (shrink)
There have been few empirical studies into what non-medical factors influence physicians and nurses when deciding about admission and discharge of ICU patients. Information about the attitudes of healthcare professionals about this process can be used to improve decision-making about resource allocation in intensive care. To provide insight into ethical problems that influence the ICU admission and discharge process, we aimed to identify and explore ethical dilemmas healthcare professionals are faced with.
In spatial sequence synaesthesia ordinal stimuli are perceived as arranged in peripersonal space. Using fMRI, we examined the neural bases of SSS and colour synaesthesia for spoken words in a late-blind synaesthete, JF. He reported days of the week and months of the year as both coloured and spatially ordered in peripersonal space; parts of the days and festivities of the year were spatially ordered but uncoloured. Words that denote time-units and triggered no concurrents were used in a control condition. (...) Both conditions inducing SSS activated the occipito-parietal, infero-frontal and insular cortex. The colour area hOC4v was engaged when the synaesthetic experience included colour. These results confirm the continued recruitment of visual colour cortex in this late-blind synaesthetes. Synaesthesia also involved activation in inferior frontal cortex, which may be related to spatial memory and detection, and in the insula, which might contribute to audiovisual integration related to the processing of inducers and concurrents. (shrink)
In their 2007 paper, Swierstra and Rip identify characteristic tropes and patterns of moral argumentation in the debate about the ethics of new and emerging science and technologies (or “NEST-ethics”). Taking their NEST-ethics structure as a starting point, we considered the debate about tissue engineering (TE), and argue what aspects we think ought to be a part of a rich and high-quality debate of TE. The debate surrounding TE seems to be predominantly a debate among experts. When considering the NEST-ethics (...) arguments that deal directly with technology, we can generally conclude that consequentialist arguments are by far the most prominently featured in discussions of TE. In addition, many papers discuss principles, rights and duties relevant to aspects of TE, both in a positive and in a critical sense. Justice arguments are only sporadically made, some “good life” arguments are used, others less so (such as the explicit articulation of perceived limits, or the technology as a technological fix for a social problem). Missing topics in the discussion, at least from the perspective of NEST-ethics, are second “level” arguments—those referring to techno-moral change connected to tissue engineering. Currently, the discussion about tissue engineering mostly focuses on its so-called “hard impacts”—quantifiable risks and benefits of the technology. Its “soft impacts”—effects that cannot easily be quantified, such as changes to experience, habits and perceptions, should receive more attention. (shrink)
Patients in a vegetative state/ unresponsive wakefulness syndrome pose ethical dilemmas to those involved. Many conflicts occur between professionals and families of these patients. In the Netherlands physicians are supposed to withdraw life sustaining treatment once recovery is not to be expected. Yet these patients have shown to survive sometimes for decades. The role of the families is thought to be important. The aim of this study was to make an inventory of the professional perspective on conflicts in long-term care (...) of patients in VS/UWS. A qualitative study of transcripts on 2 Moral Deliberations in 2 cases of patients in VS/UWS in long-term care facilities. Six themes emerged: 1) Vision on VS/UWS; 2) Treatment and care plan; 3) Impact on relationships; 4) Feelings/attitude; 5) Communication; 6) Organizational aspects. These themes are related to professionals and to what families had expressed to the professionals. We found conflicts as well as contradictory feelings and thoughts to be a general feature in 4 of these themes, both in professionals and families. Conflicts were found in several actors: within families concerning all 6 themes, in nurse teams concerning the theme treatment and care plan, and between physicians concerning all 6 themes. Different visions, different expectations and hope on recovery, deviating goals and contradictory feelings/thoughts in families and professionals can lead to conflicts over a patient with VS/UWS. Key factors to prevent or solve such conflicts are a carefully established diagnosis, clarity upon visions, uniformity in treatment goals and plans, an open and empathic communication, expertise and understanding the importance of contradictory feelings/thoughts. Management should bridge conflicts and support their staff, by developing expertise, by creating stability and by facilitating medical ethical discourses. Shared compassion for the patient might be a key to gain trust and bridge the differences from non-shared to shared decision making. (shrink)
BackgroundPediatric oncology has a strong research culture. Most pediatric oncologists are investigators, involved in clinical care as well as research. As a result, a remarkable proportion of children with cancer enrolls in a trial during treatment. This paper discusses the ethical consequences of the unprecedented integration of research and care in pediatric oncology from the perspective of parents and physicians.MethodologyAn empirical ethical approach, combining a narrative review of qualitative studies on parents' and physicians' experiences of the pediatric oncology research practice, (...) and comparison of these experiences with existing theoretical ethical concepts about research. The use of empirical evidence enriches these concepts by taking into account the peculiarities that ethical challenges pose in practice.ResultsAnalysis of the 22 studies reviewed revealed that the integration of research and care has consequences for the informed consent process, the promotion of the child's best interests, and the role of the physician . True consent to research is difficult to achieve due to the complexity of research protocols, emotional stress and parents' dependency on their child's physician. Parents' role is to promote their child's best interests, also when they are asked to consider enrolling their child in a trial. Parents are almost never in equipoise on trial participation, which leaves them with the agonizing situation of wanting to do what is best for their child, while being fearful of making the wrong decision. Furthermore, a therapeutic misconception endangers correct assessment of participation, making parents inaccurately attribute therapeutic intent to research procedures. Physicians prefer the perspective of a therapist over a researcher. Consequently they may truly believe that in the research setting they promote the child's best interests, which maintains the existence of a therapeutic misconception between them and parents.ConclusionDue to the integration of research and care, their different ethical perspectives become intertwined in the daily practice of pediatric oncology. Increasing awareness of what this means for the communication between parents and physicians is essential. Future research should focus on efforts that overcome the problems that the synchronicity of research and care evokes. (shrink)
Background: Although genetic research into Alzheimer disease (AD) is increasing, the ethical aspects of this kind of research and the differences between ethical issues related to genetic and non-genetic research into AD have not yet received much attention. Objectives: (1) To identify and compare the five ethical issues considered most important by surveyed expert panellists in non-genetic and genetic AD research and (2) to compare our empirical findings with ethical issues in genetic research in general as described in the literature. (...) Method: A modified Delphi study in two rounds Results: Genetic and non-genetic research into AD generated an approximately equal number of topics with a considerable overlap. Different priorities in the ethics of both types of research were found. Genetic research raised new topics such as “confidentiality of genetic information” and “implications of research for relatives” which changes the impact and application of existing ethical topics such as “informed consent” and is judged to have more impact on both individuals and society. A difference with the results of more theoretical approaches on ethical aspects related to AD research was also found. Conclusions: Different priorities are given to ethical issues in genetic and non-genetic research. These arise partly because genetic research causes unique and new questions, mostly related to the position of family members and the status of and access to genetic information. Differences found between the results of our empirical study and the more theoretical literature, suggest an additional value for empirical research in medical ethics. (shrink)