Relational Ethics and Psychosomatic Assessment
Advances in psychosomatic medicine 2012; 32: 223-39
The main ethical perspective in the clinical relationship takes into consideration the vulnerability of the clinical condition before threats and risks that can undermine the integrity and dignity of the person. Psychosomatic medicine faces complex cases whose ethical problems cannot only be solved by applying top-down deontological or utilitarian approaches, principlism, which is limited mainly to easing ethical tensions, or a bottom-up approach, the casuistic model, case-based reasoning. In introducing vulnerability as the core of ethical questioning as a principal ontological priority over other principles, relational ethics refers to the appreciation of the responsibility of health professionals through which a health care professional and the patient 'together' can construct more reasonable and prudential courses of action with, for, and by the patient. The model of relational ethics is based on three main aspects, clinically integrated approach, science/philosophy partnership, and deliberative process, that when taken together, form an intermediate model that ensures prudent and reasonable decision-making. The three structural elements and characteristics of relational ethics create and maintain a responsible relationship between the professional and the patient being aware that the mutual vulnerability of health professional and the patient has a moral value and recognizing that their relationship will allow for personal development of each. I conceptualized the model of relational ethics as one that embraces the meta-ethical principles of vulnerability, dignity, responsibility, and respect for autonomy as they are considered by many international declarations or conventions. This model integrates three key polarities: ensure conditions of authenticity, facilitate a process of cooperative mutuality, and promote opportunities for growth and development. Relational ethics can be used to solve major ethical problems in psychosomatic medicine, capacity, informed consent, and confidentiality.
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