Survey on the Experience in Ethical Decision-Making and Attitude of Pleven University Hospital Physicians Towards Ethics Consultation
Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy 2008 March; 11(1): 35-42
Background: Contemporary medical practice is complicated by many dilemmas requiring ethical sensitivity and moral reasoning. Objective: To investigate physicians' experience in ethical decision-making and their attitude towards ethics consultation. Methods: In a cross-sectional survey 126 physicians representing the main clinics of Pleven University hospital were investigated by a self-administered questionnaire. The following variables were measured: occurrence, nature and ways of resolving ethical problems; physicians' attitudes towards ethics consultation; physicians' opinions on qualities and skills of an ethics consultant, and socio-demographic characteristics. Data analysis included descriptive statistics, ? 2 and t-test. Results: Response rate was 88.9% ( n = 112). Men and women were equally represented (48.2%-51.8%). The sample consisted of experienced physicians: 42.9% had 11-20 years experience, and 33% had 21-30 years. According to 84.8% of respondents, ethical problems have been discussed in their specialty. Predominant dilemmas included relationships with patients and relatives (76.8%) and team work (67.6%). Over ¾ of physicians needed an advice in solving ethical problems. Ninety six percent responded positively to ethics consultation. They would mainly request it for resolving conflicts (72.5%), and in case of concern for the rightness of their decisions (52.7%). The image of an ethics consultant was built of clinical competence (70.9%), ability to deal with conflicts (59.1%), communication skills (58.2%), tolerance for different views (55.4%), and a special qualification in ethics (52.7%). Conclusions: The study underlined that Pleven University hospital physicians face similar ethical dilemmas as their colleagues in other countries do. The expressed positive attitudes to ethics consultation should serve as a basis for further research and development of ethics consultation services.
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