Informed consent, decision-making styles and the role of patient-physician relationships are imperative aspects of clinical medicine worldwide. We present the case of a 74-year-old woman afflicted with advanced liver cancer whose attending physician, per request of the family, did not inform her of her true diagnosis. In our analysis, we explore the differences in informed-consent styles between patients who hold an "independent" and "interdependent" construal of the self and then highlight the possible implications maintained by this position in the context (...) of international clinical ethics. Finally, we discuss the need to reassess informed-consent styles suitable to the needs of each patient regardless of whether he or she resides in the United States or in Japan. (shrink)
Today Asia is attracting attention in the area of bioethics. In fact, the potential of bioethics is beginning to be discussed seriously at academic centers across Asia. In Japan, this discussion began a decade ago with the publication The book is one of the principal explorations of biomedical ethics involving Japan to date. Tom Beauchamp, an author of one of the book's chapters, compares Japanese and American standards of informed consent and refutes relativistic positions, concluding that.
In Japan, discussion concerning advance directives (ADs) has been on the rise during the past decade. ADs are one method proposed to facilitate the process of communication among patients, families and health care providers regarding the plan of care of a patient who is no longer capable of communicating. In this paper, we report the results of the first in-depth survey on the general population concerning the preferences and use of ADs in Japan. A self-administered questionnaire was sent via mail (...) to a stratified random sampling of 560 residents listed in the residential registry of one district of Tokyo, Japan (n = 165,567). Association between correlating factors and specific preferences toward ADs was assessed using contingency table bivariate analysis and multivariate regression model to estimate independent contribution. Of the 560 questionnaires sent out, a total of 425 participants took part in the survey yielding a response rate of 75.9 %. The results of the present study indicate that: 1) the most important components to be addressed are the specifics of medical treatment at the end of life stage and disclosure of diagnosis and prognosis; 2) the majority of participants found it suitable to express their directives by word to family and/or physician and not by written documentation; 3) there is no strong need for legal measures in setting up an AD; 4) it is permissible for family and physician to loosely interpret one's directives; 5) the most suitable proxy is considered to be a family member, relative, or spouse. Multivariate analysis found the following five factors as significantly associated with preferences: 1) awareness regarding living wills, 2) experience with the use of ADs, 3) preferences for end-of-life treatment, 4) preferences for information disclosure, and 5) intentions of creating a will. Written ADs might be useful in the Japanese setting when the individual either wishes: 1) to not provide a lot of leeway to surrogates and/or caregivers, and/or 2) to ensure his or her directives in the cases of terminal illness, brain death, and pain treatment, as well as regarding information disclosure. (shrink)
Compared to institutional and area-based ethics committees, little is known about the structure and activities performed by ethics committees at national medical organizations and societies. This five year follow-up study aimed to determine (1) the creation and function of ethics committees at medical organizations in Japan, and (2) their general strategies to deal with ethical problems. The study sample included the member societies of the Japanese Association of Medical Sciences (n=92 in 1998, n=96 in 2003). Instruments consisted of two sections: (...) (1) the structure, function and activities of ethics committees, and (2) the strategies for dealing with ethical problems. Response rates were 84.4% in 1998 and 64.4% in 2003. Findings showed a significant increase of ethics committees at medical organizations between 1998 (25.6%) and 2003 (50.0%). Members were mostly male, medical doctors in clinical or basic medicine, and members of the organization. The major functions of ethics committees were ethical reviews of research protocols, policy making and ethical reviews of manuscripts submitted for journal publication. Among organizations that did not have an ethics committee, a significant decrease was found in organizations that replied that they had never experienced an ethical problem which needed further investigation (p<0.01). Findings suggested an overall rise in awareness of the importance of ethical issues and also highlighted an increase in recognition of responsibility regarding ethical problems. (shrink)
Ethical principles including autonomy, justice and equality function in the same paradigm of thought, that is, logocentrism - an epistemological predilection that relies on the analytic power of deciphering between binary oppositions. By studying observable behavior with an analytical approach, however, one immediately limits any recognition and possible understanding of modes of thought based on separate epistemologies. This article seeks to reveal an epistemological predilection that diverges from logocentrism yet continues to function as a fundamental component of ethical behavior. The (...) issue of cancer disclosure in Japan is used to exemplify the nature of relative subjectivity (kankeiteki-shukansei), a term I define and believe to be an epistemological predisposition fundamental to ethical behavior. Relative subjectivity denotes an epistemology quintessential to the behavior of individuals who attend to the respective tides of each particular situation, each interpersonal relationship or, in the context of clinical medicine, to the needs and values of each patient. (shrink)
Scientific misconduct can jeopardize scientific progress and destroy the credibility and reputation of academic institutions and their faculty and students; ultimately it can compromise scientific integrity and result in a loss of confidence for the entire scientific community. Only recently in Japan has scientific misconduct become a central public topic. This increased attention to the topic, in turn, has highlighted a paucity of ethical standards within the Japanese scientific community and a lack of an apt process for conflict resolution. In (...) this brief report, we first provide an overview of several high-profile cases of scientific misconduct recently uncovered in Japan. Next we consider how a recent rise in competition within the academic and scientific communities is possibly related to a concurrent increase in reported cases of scientific misconduct. Last, after discussing what actions have already been taken, we recommend further actions needed to deal with the problem of scientific misconduct in Japan. (shrink)
Until recently, many of Japan's medical and bioethical communities had ignored the issue of conflicts of interest . This is no longer the case. Discussion on the economic and ethical problems defined by CIs is now apparent in academic, political, and even industrial spheres. In June 2004, this debate was sparked by a scandal involving AnGes MG, Inc., a bioventure company set up by a faculty member at Osaka University Graduate School of Medicine. AnGes MG developed a gene therapy using (...) the Hepatic Growth Factor for obstructive blood vessel disease. Japanese newspapers reported that “several physicians involved with clinical trials for AnGes obtained unlisted shares of stock. One physician allegedly received 32 million yen after AnGes MG went public on the ‘Mothers’ stock exchange”. (shrink)
Informed consent, decision-making styles and the role of patient–physician relationships are imperative aspects of clinical medicine worldwide. We present the case of a 74-year-old woman afflicted with advanced liver cancer whose attending physician, per request of the family, did not inform her of her true diagnosis. In our analysis, we explore the differences in informed-consent styles between patients who hold an “independent” and “interdependent” construal of the self and then highlight the possible implications maintained by this position in the context (...) of international clinical ethics. Finally, we discuss the need to reassess informed-consent styles suitable to the needs of each patient regardless of whether he or she resides in the United States or in Japan. (shrink)