Ethics in Health Care Management: Developing an Instrument to Assess Humane Caring
Nursing Ethics. 1998 May; 5(3): 228-235.
The care of patients should be professional, human and humane. This is an ethical issue. The words human (inhimillinen) and humane (ihmislaheinen) have different meanings in the Finnish language. At Kuopio University Hospital (1200 beds), in Finland, it was decided to provide patients with professional and humane caring. Ethical values differ for different groups of people. Therefore humane caring was assessed by questioning both hospital patients (n = 160) and staff (n = 196). The data were subjected to content analysis. The result was that the values obtained for both patients and staff were similar. Five descriptive categories of humane caring emerged. To discover what kind of caring was provided for patients, the categories were operationalized into 66 criteria and a questionnaire was drawn up on the basis of these criteria. The data for evaluation of the quality of caring were collected from patients (n = 1708). The data were analysed using cross-tabulations and the chi-squared test; sum variables were calculated for the five standards. The results suggest that special attention should be paid to vulnerable patient groups (e.g. the elderly and the young). One means of ethical management is to support our staff to care more humanely by discussing with them the results of this study, setting standards and criteria for humane caring and what this means in practice. It is hoped our caring will therefore be more humane.
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