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Clarifying perspectives: Ethics case reflection sessions in childhood cancer care

Journal title
Nursing ethics
Publication year
Bartholdson, C.; Lutzen, K.; Blomgren, K.; Pergert, P.

BACKGROUND: Childhood cancer care involves many ethical concerns. Deciding on treatment levels and providing care that infringes on the child’s growing autonomy are known ethical concerns that involve the whole professional team around the child’s care. OBJECTIVES: The purpose of this study was to explore healthcare professionals’ experiences of participating in ethics case reflection sessions in childhood cancer care. RESEARCH DESIGN: Data collection by observations, individual interviews, and individual encounters. Data analysis were conducted following grounded theory methodology. PARTICIPANTS AND RESEARCH CONTEXT: Healthcare professionals working at a publicly funded children’s hospital in Sweden participated in ethics case reflection sessions in which ethical issues concerning clinical cases were reflected on. ETHICAL CONSIDERATIONS: The children’s and their parents’ integrity was preserved through measures taken to protect patient identity during ethics case reflection sessions. The study was approved by a regional ethical review board. FINDINGS: Consolidating care by clarifying perspectives emerged. Consolidating care entails striving for common care goals and creating a shared view of care and the ethical concern in the specific case. The inter-professional perspectives on the ethical aspects of care are clarified by the participants’ articulated views on the case. Different approaches for deliberating ethics are used during the sessions including raising values and making sense, leading to unifying interactions. DISCUSSION: The findings indicate that ethical concerns could be eased by implementing ethics case reflection sessions. Conflicting perspectives can be turned into unifying interactions in the healthcare professional team with the common aim to achieve good pediatric care. CONCLUSION: Ethics case reflection sessions is valuable as it permits the discussion of values in healthcare-related issues in childhood cancer care. Clarifying perspectives, on the ethical concerns, enables healthcare professionals to reflect on the most reasonable and ethically defensible care for the child. A consolidated care approach would be valuable for both the child and the healthcare professionals because of the common care goals.

Research abstracts