Ethical Issues After the Disclosure of a Terminal Illness: Danish and Norwegian Hospice Nurses' Reflections
Davis, Anne J.
Bunch, Eli H.
Nursing Ethics 2003 March; 10(2): 175-185
This research explored the ethical issues that nurses reported in the process of elaboration and further disclosure after an initial diagnosis of a terminal illness had been given. One hundred and six hospice nurses in Norway and Denmark completed a questionnaire containing 45 items of forced-choice and open-ended questions. This questionnaire was tested and used in three countries prior to this study; for this research it was tested on Danish and Norwegian nurses. All respondents supported the ethics of ongoing disclosure to terminally ill patients based on ethical principles embedded in their country's Patients' Rights Acts. Truth, as an intrinsic value, proved foundational to patient autonomy, the most frequent ethical principle these nurses reported to justify their ethical position on information disclosure to terminally ill people. Telling the truth about a diagnosis was not the end of ethics in hospice care, but rather the beginning because what occurs ethically in dealing with prognosis issues became central to these hospice nurses, the patients and their families. Coupled with truth-telling, compassionate interaction and care become extensions of patients' rights.
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