A systematic literature review on evaluation of clinical ethics support services in mental healthcare is presented and discussed. The focus was on (a) forms of clinical ethics support services, (b) evaluation of clinical ethics support services, (c) contexts and participants and (d) results. Five studies were included. The ethics support activities described were moral case deliberations and ethics rounds. Different qualitative and quantitative research methods were utilized. The results show that (a) participants felt that they gained an increased insight into (...) moral issues through systematic reflection; (b) there was improved cooperation among multidisciplinary team members; (c) it was uncertain whether clinical ethics support services led to better patient care; (d) the issue of patient and client participation is complex; and (e) the implementation process is challenging. Clinical ethics support services have mainly been studied through the experiences of the participating facilitators and healthcare professionals. Hence, there is limited knowledge of whether and how various types of clinical ethics support services influence the quality of care and how patients and relatives may evaluate clinical ethics support services. Based on the six excluded ‘grey zone articles’, in which there was an implicit focus on ethics reflection, other ways of working with ethical reflection in practice are discussed. Implementing and evaluating clinical ethics support services as approaches to clinical ethics support that are more integrated into the development of good practice are in focus. In order to meet some of the shortcomings of the field of clinical ethics support services, a research project that aims to strengthen ethics support in the mental health services, including patients’ and caregivers’ views on ethical challenges, is presented. (shrink)
Professionals within the mental health services face many ethical dilemmas and challenging situations regarding the use of coercion. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the significance of participating in systematic ethics reflection groups focusing on ethical challenges related to coercion. In 2013 and 2014, 20 focus group interviews with 127 participants were conducted. The interviews were tape recorded and transcribed verbatim. The analysis is inspired by the concept of ‘bricolage’ which means our approach was inductive. Most participants report (...) positive experiences with participating in ethics reflection groups: A systematic and well-structured approach to discuss ethical challenges, increased consciousness of formal and informal coercion, a possibility to challenge problematic concepts, attitudes and practices, improved professional competence and confidence, greater trust within the team, more constructive disagreement and room for internal critique, less judgmental reactions and more reasoned approaches, and identification of potential for improvement and alternative courses of action. On several wards, the participation of psychiatrists and psychologists in the reflection groups was missing. The impact of the perceived lack of safety in reflection groups should not be underestimated. Sometimes the method for ethics reflection was utilised in a rigid way. Direct involvement of patients and family was missing. This focus group study indicates the potential of ethics reflection groups to create a moral space in the workplace that promotes critical, reflective and collaborative moral deliberations. Future research, with other designs and methodologies, is needed to further investigate the impact of ethics reflection groups on improving health care practices. (shrink)
Background:To better understand the kinds of ethical challenges that emerge when using coercion in mental healthcare, and the importance of these ethical challenges, this article presents a systematic review of scientific literature.Methods:A systematic search in the databases MEDLINE, PsychInfo, Cinahl, Sociologicals and Web of Knowledge was carried out. The search terms derived from the population, intervention, comparison/setting and outcome. A total of 22 studies were included.Ethical considerations:The review is conducted according to the Vancouver Protocol.Results:There are few studies that study ethical (...) challenges when using coercion in an explicit way. However, promoting the patient’s best interest is the most important justification for coercion. Patient autonomy is a fundamental challenge facing any use of coercion, and some kind of autonomy infringement is a key aspect of the concept of coercion. The concepts of coercion and autonomy and the relations between them are very complex. When coercion is used, a primary ethical challenge is to assess the balance between promoting good and inflicting harm. In the included studies, findings explicitly related to justice are few. Some studies focus on moral distress experienced by the healthcare professionals using coercion.Conclusion:There is a lack of literature explicitly addressing ethical challenges related to the use of coercion in mental healthcare. It is essential for healthcare personnel to develop a strong awareness of which ethical challenges they face in connection with the use of coercion, as well as challenges related to justice. How to address ethical challenges in ways that prevent illegitimate paternalism and strengthen beneficent treatment and care and trust in connection with the use of coercion is a ‘clinical must’. By developing a more refined and rich language describing ethical challenges, clinicians may be better equipped to prevent coercion and the accompanying moral distress. (shrink)
This article contends that an ethics of care has a particular moral ontology that makes it suitable to argue for the normative significance of relational responsibilities within professional health care. This ontology is relational. It means that moral choices always have to account for the web of relationships, the relational networks and responsibilities that are an essential part of particular moral circumstances. Given this ontology, the article investigates the conditions for health care professionals to be partial and to act on (...) the basis of particular responsibilities to their patients. We will argue that priorities could be partial in three ways: first, because there may be exceptional circumstances that allow for giving priority to one patient over another; second, because the integrity of the patient and a health care worker may be connected in special ways; and, finally, even if impartiality is essential, the institutional basis of health care must always give ample space for an ethically qualified individual and personal care for patients. Even if difficult priorities may be necessary, the conditions of institutional health care should always seek to create the prerequisites for nurses and doctors to administer proper care. (shrink)
In recent years, the attention on the use of coercion in mental health care has increased. The use of coercion is common and controversial, and involves many complex ethical challenges. The research question in this study was: What kind of ethical challenges related to the use of coercion do health care practitioners face in their daily clinical work?
Little is known about how health care professionals deal with ethical challenges in mental health care, especially when not making use of a formal ethics support service. Understanding this is important in order to be able to support the professionals, to improve the quality of care, and to know in which way future ethics support services might be helpful.
BackgroundIn this article, the sources and features of moral distress as experienced by acute psychiatric care nurses are explored.Research designA qualitative design with 16 individual in-depth interviews was chosen. Braun and Clarke’s six analytic phases were used.Ethical considerationsApproval was obtained from the Norwegian Social Science Data Services. Participation was confidential and voluntary.FindingsBased on findings, a somewhat wider definition of moral distress is introduced where nurses experiencing being morally constrained, facing moral dilemmas or moral doubt are included. Coercive administration of medicines, (...) coercion that might be avoided and resistance to the use of coercion are all morally stressful situations. Insufficient resources, mentally poorer patients and quicker discharges lead to superficial treatment. Few staff on evening shifts/weekends make nurses worry when follow-up of the most ill patients, often suicidal, in need of seclusion or with heightened risk of violence, must be done by untrained personnel. Provision of good care when exposed to violence is morally challenging. Feelings of inadequacy, being squeezed between ideals and clinical reality, and failing the patients create moral distress. Moral distress causes bad conscience and feelings of guilt, frustration, anger, sadness, inadequacy, mental tiredness, emotional numbness and being fragmented. Others feel emotionally ‘flat’, cold and empty, and develop high blood pressure and problems sleeping. Even so, some nurses find that moral stress hones their ethical awareness.ConclusionMoral distress in acute psychiatric care may be caused by multiple reasons and cause a variety of reactions. Multifaceted ethical dilemmas, incompatible demands and proximity to patients’ suffering make nurses exposed to moral distress. Moral distress may lead to reduced quality care, which again may lead to bad conscience and cause moral distress. It is particularly problematic if moral distress results in nurses distancing and disconnecting themselves from the patients and their inner selves. (shrink)
In this article we elaborate on the concept of mature care, in which reciprocity is crucial. Emphasizing reciprocity challenges other comprehensions where care is understood as a one-sided activity, with either the carer or the cared for considered the main source of knowledge and sole motivation for caring. We aim to demonstrate the concept of mature care’s advantages with regard to conceptualizing the practice of care, such as in nursing. First, we present and discuss the concept of mature care, then (...) we apply the concept to two real life cases taken from the field of acute psychiatry. In the first example we demonstrate how mature care can grasp tacit reciprocal aspects in caring. In the other, we elucidate a difficulty related to the concept, namely the lack of reciprocity and interaction that affects some relationships. (shrink)
Background:Nurses working within acute psychiatric settings often face multifaceted moral dilemmas and incompatible demands.Methods:Qualitative individual and focus group interviews were conducted.Ethical considerations:Approval was received from the Norwegian Social Science Data Services. Ethical Research Guidelines were followed.Participants and research context:Thirty nurses working within acute psychiatric wards in two mental health hospitals.Results:Various coping strategies were used: mentally sorting through their ethical dilemmas or bringing them to the leadership, not ‘bringing problems home’ after work or loyally doing as told and trying to make (...) oneself immune. Colleagues and work climate were important for choice of coping strategies.Discussion:Nurses’ coping strategies may influence both their clinical practice and their private life. Not facing their moral distress seemed to come at a high price.Conclusions:It seems essential for nurses working in acute psychiatric settings to come to terms with distressing events and identify and address the moral issues they face. As moral distress to a great extent is an organisational problem experienced at a personal level, it is important that a work climate is developed that is open for ethical discussions and nourishes adaptive coping strategies and moral resilience. (shrink)
Coercion in mental health care gives rise to many ethical challenges. Many countries have recently implemented state policy programs or development projects aiming to reduce coercive practices and improve their quality. Few studies have explored the possible role of ethics in such initiatives. This study adds to this subject by exploring health professionals’ descriptions of their ethical challenges and strategies in everyday life to ensure morally justified coercion and best practices. Seven semi-structured telephone interviews were carried out in 2012 with (...) key informants in charge of central development projects and quality-assurance work in mental health services in Norway. No facilities used formal clinical ethics support. However, the informants described five areas in which ethics was of importance: moral concerns as implicit parts of local quality improvement initiatives; moral uneasiness and idealism as a motivational source of change; creating a normative basis for development work; value-based leadership; and increased staff reflexivity on coercive practices. The study shows that coercion entails both individual and institutional ethical aspects. Thus, various kinds of moral deliberation and ethics support could contribute to addressing coercion challenges by offering more systematic ways of dealing with moral concerns. However, more strategic use of implicit and institutional ethics is also needed. (shrink)
In many Western countries, studies have demonstrated extensive use of coercion in nursing homes, especially towards patients suffering from dementia. This article examines what kinds of strategies or alternative interventions nursing staff in Norway used when patients resist care and treatment and what conditions the staff considered as necessary to succeed in avoiding the use of coercion. The data are based on interdisciplinary focus group interviews with nursing home staff. The study revealed that the nursing home staff usually spent a (...) lot of time trying a wide range of approaches to avoid the use of coercion. The most common strategies were deflecting and persuasive strategies, limiting choices by conscious use of language, different kinds of flexibility and one-to-one care. According to the staff, their opportunities to use alternative strategies effectively are greatly affected by the nursing home’s resources, by the organization of care and by the staff’s competence. (shrink)
BackgroundNorway has extensive and detailed legal requirements and guidelines concerning involvement of next of kin during involuntary hospital treatment of seriously mentally ill patients. However, we have little knowledge about what happens in practice. This study explores NOK’s views and experiences of involvement during involuntary hospitalisation in Norway.MethodsWe performed qualitative interviews-focus groups and individual-with 36 adult NOK to adults and adolescents who had been involuntarily admitted once or several times. The semi-structured interview guide included questions on experiences with and views (...) on involvement during serious mental illness and coercion.ResultsMost of the NOK were heavily involved in the patient’s life and illness. Their conceptions of involvement during mental illness and coercion, included many important aspects adding to the traditional focus on substitute decision-making. The overall impression was, with a few exceptions, that the NOK had experienced lack of involvement or had negative experiences as NOK in their encounters with the health services. Not being seen and acknowledged as important caregivers and co sufferers were experienced as offensive and could add to their feelings of guilt. Lack of involvement had as a consequence that vital patient information which the NOK possessed was not shared with the patient’s therapists.ConclusionsDespite public initiatives to improve the involvement of NOK, the NOK in our study felt neglected, unappreciated and dismissed. The paper discusses possible reasons for the gap between public policies and practice which deserve more attention: 1. A strong and not always correct focus on legal matters. 2. Little emphasis on the role of NOK in professional ethics. 3. The organisation of health services and resource constraints. 4. A conservative culture regarding the role of next of kin in mental health care. Acknowledging these reasons may be helpful to understand deficient involvement of the NOK in voluntary mental health services. (shrink)
The ideal of trust pervades nursing. This article uses empirical material from acute psychiatry that reveals that it is distrust rather than trust that is prevalent in this field. Our data analyses show how distrust is expressed in the therapeutic environment and in the relationship between nurse and patient. We point out how trust can nonetheless be created in an environment that is characterized by distrust. Both trust and distrust are exposed as `fragile' phenomena that can easily `tip over' towards (...) their opposites. Trust is not something that nurses possess or are given; it is rather something that they earn and have to work hard to achieve. Regarding themselves as potential causes of distrust and active wielders of power can contribute to nurses developing a more realistic view of their practice. Assuming a realistic middle-way perspective can help to manoeuvre between the extremities of excellence and resignation, which in turn can lead to processes that create trust between psychotic patients and nurses. (shrink)
Informed consent represents a cornerstone of the endeavours to make health care research ethically acceptable. Based on experience of qualitative research on power dynamics in nursing care in acute psychiatry, we show that the requirement for informed consent may be practised in formalistic ways that legitimize the researcher's activities without taking the patient's changing perception of the situation sufficiently into account. The presentation of three patient case studies illustrates a diversity of issues that the researcher must consider in each situation. (...) We argue for the necessity of researchers to base their judgement on a complex set of competencies. Consciousness of research ethics must be combined with knowledge of the challenges involved in research methodology in qualitative research and familiarity with the therapeutic arena in which the research is being conducted. The article shows that the alternative solution is not simple but must emphasize the researcher's ability to doubt and be based on an awareness of the researcher's fallibility. (shrink)
The idea behind this article is to discuss the importance and to develop the concept of reciprocity in asymmetric professional relationships. As an empirical starting point for an examination of the possible forms of reciprocity between patients and nurses in psychiatry, we chose two qualitative in-depth interviews with two different patients. The manners in which these two patients relate to medical personnel—one is dependent, the other is independent—show that this presents challenges to nurses. The theoretical context is provided by the (...) notion of mature care as it has been developed by feminist-oriented ethics of care, in contrast to the notion of altruistic care. In relation to the concept of mature care, we discuss how nursing can be perceived in demanding relationships with patients in psychiatry. Reciprocity implies that, in principle, the interests of the nurses also matter in a nurse-patient relationship. We show that reciprocity—in practice—is complicated and challenging in a number of different ways. Mature care—with its systematic inclusion of relationships and reciprocity—provides an alternative understanding of what takes place between patients and nurses compared with an altruistic notion of care. As such, mature care can be regarded as an useful paradigm for nurse-patient relationships in psychiatry. (shrink)