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1.  Inclusion of Ethical Issues in Dementia Guidelines: A Thematic Text Analysis 
PLoS Medicine  2013;10(8):e1001498.
Clinical practice guidelines (CPGs) aim to improve professionalism in health care. However, current CPG development manuals fail to address how to include ethical issues in a systematic and transparent manner. The objective of this study was to assess the representation of ethical issues in general CPGs on dementia care.
Methods and Findings
To identify national CPGs on dementia care, five databases of guidelines were searched and national psychiatric associations were contacted in August 2011 and in June 2013. A framework for the assessment of the identified CPGs' ethical content was developed on the basis of a prior systematic review of ethical issues in dementia care. Thematic text analysis and a 4-point rating score were employed to assess how ethical issues were addressed in the identified CPGs. Twelve national CPGs were included. Thirty-one ethical issues in dementia care were identified by the prior systematic review. The proportion of these 31 ethical issues that were explicitly addressed by each CPG ranged from 22% to 77%, with a median of 49.5%. National guidelines differed substantially with respect to (a) which ethical issues were represented, (b) whether ethical recommendations were included, (c) whether justifications or citations were provided to support recommendations, and (d) to what extent the ethical issues were explained.
Ethical issues were inconsistently addressed in national dementia guidelines, with some guidelines including most and some including few ethical issues. Guidelines should address ethical issues and how to deal with them to help the medical profession understand how to approach care of patients with dementia, and for patients, their relatives, and the general public, all of whom might seek information and advice in national guidelines. There is a need for further research to specify how detailed ethical issues and their respective recommendations can and should be addressed in dementia guidelines.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors’ Summary
In the past, doctors tended to rely on their own experience to choose the best treatment for their patients. Faced with a patient with dementia (a brain disorder that affects short-term memory and the ability tocarry out normal daily activities), for example, a doctor would use his/her own experience to help decide whether the patient should remain at home or would be better cared for in a nursing home. Similarly, the doctor might have to decide whether antipsychotic drugs might be necessary to reduce behavioral or psychological symptoms such as restlessness or shouting. However, over the past two decades, numerous evidence-based clinical practice guidelines (CPGs) have been produced by governmental bodies and medical associations that aim to improve standards of clinical competence and professionalism in health care. During the development of each guideline, experts search the medical literature for the current evidence about the diagnosis and treatment of a disease, evaluate the quality of that evidence, and then make recommendations based on the best evidence available.
Why Was This Study Done?
Currently, CPG development manuals do not address how to include ethical issues in CPGs. A health-care professional is ethical if he/she behaves in accordance with the accepted principles of right and wrong that govern the medical profession. More specifically, medical professionalism is based on a set of binding ethical principles—respect for patient autonomy, beneficence, non-malfeasance (the “do no harm” principle), and justice. In particular, CPG development manuals do not address disease-specific ethical issues (DSEIs), clinical ethical situations that are relevant to the management of a specific disease. So, for example, a DSEI that arises in dementia care is the conflict between the ethical principles of non-malfeasance and patient autonomy (freedom-to-move-at-will). Thus, healthcare professionals may have to decide to physically restrain a patient with dementia to prevent the patient doing harm to him- or herself or to someone else. Given the lack of guidance on how to address ethical issues in CPG development manuals, in this thematic text analysis, the researchers assess the representation of ethical issues in CPGs on general dementia care. Thematic text analysis uses a framework for the assessment of qualitative data (information that is word-based rather than number-based) that involves pinpointing, examining, and recording patterns (themes) among the available data.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers identified 12 national CPGs on dementia care by searching guideline databases and by contacting national psychiatric associations. They developed a framework for the assessment of the ethical content in these CPGs based on a previous systematic review of ethical issues in dementia care. Of the 31 DSEIs included by the researchers in their analysis, the proportion that were explicitly addressed by each CPG ranged from 22% (Switzerland) to 77% (USA); on average the CPGs explicitly addressed half of the DSEIs. Four DSEIs—adequate consideration of advanced directives in decision making, usage of GPS and other monitoring techniques, covert medication, and dealing with suicidal thinking—were not addressed in at least 11 of the CPGs. The inclusion of recommendations on how to deal with DSEIs ranged from 10% of DSEIs covered in the Swiss CPG to 71% covered in the US CPG. Overall, national guidelines differed substantially with respect to which ethical issues were included, whether ethical recommendations were included, whether justifications or citations were provided to support recommendations, and to what extent the ethical issues were clearly explained.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings show that national CPGs on dementia care already address clinical ethical issues but that the extent to which the spectrum of DSEIs is considered varies widely within and between CPGs. They also indicate that recommendations on how to deal with DSEIs often lack the evidence that health-care professionals use to justify their clinical decisions. The researchers suggest that this situation can and should be improved, although more research is needed to determine how ethical issues and recommendations should be addressed in dementia guidelines. A more systematic and transparent inclusion of DSEIs in CPGs for dementia (and for other conditions) would further support the concept of medical professionalism as a core element of CPGs, note the researchers, but is also important for patients and their relatives who might turn to national CPGs for information and guidance at a stressful time of life.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
Wikipedia contains a page on clinical practice guidelines (note: Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit; available in several languages)
The US National Guideline Clearinghouse provides information on national guidelines, including CPGs for dementia
The Guidelines International Network promotes the systematic development and application of clinical practice guidelines
The American Medical Association provides information about medical ethics; the British Medical Association provides information on all aspects of ethics and includes an essential tool kit that introduces common ethical problems and practical ways to deal with them
The UK National Health Service Choices website provides information about dementia, including a personal story about dealing with dementia
MedlinePlus provides links to additional resources about dementia and about Alzheimers disease, a specific type of dementia (in English and Spanish)
The UK Nuffield Council on Bioethics provides the report Dementia: ethical issues and additional information on the public consultation on ethical issues in dementia care
PMCID: PMC3742442  PMID: 23966839
2.  Ethical Issues of Transplanting Organs from Transgenic Animals into Human Beings 
Cell Journal (Yakhteh)  2014;16(3):353-360.
One of the most important applications of transgenic animals for medical purposes is to transplant their organs into human’s body, an issue which has caused a lot of ethical and scientific discussions. we can divide the ethical arguments to two comprehensive groups; the first group which is known as deontological critiques (related to the action itself regardless of any results pointing the human or animal) and the second group, called the consequentialist critiques (which are directly pointing the consequences of the action). The latter arguments also can be divided to two subgroups. In the first one which named anthropocentrism, just humankind has inherent value in the moral society, and it studies the problem just from a human-based point of view while in second named, biocentrism all the living organism have this value and it deals specially with the problem from the animal-based viewpoint. In this descriptive-analytic study, ethical issues were retrieved from books, papers, international guidelines, thesis, declarations and instructions, and even some weekly journals using keywords related to transgenic animals, organ, and transplantation. According to the precautionary principle with the strong legal and ethical background, due to lack of accepted scientific certainties about the safety of the procedure, in this phase, transplanting animal’s organs into human beings have the potential harm and danger for both human and animals, and application of this procedure is unethical until the safety to human will be proven.
PMCID: PMC4204195  PMID: 25383334
Transgenic Animals; Organ Transplantation; Animal Welfare; Xenotransplantation
3.  How Many Principles for Public Health Ethics? 
General moral (ethical) principles play a prominent role in certain methods of moral reasoning and ethical decision-making in bioethics and public health. Examples include the principles of respect for autonomy, beneficence, nonmaleficence, and justice. Some accounts of ethics in public health have pointed to additional principles related to social and environmental concerns, such as the precautionary principle and principles of solidarity or social cohesion. This article provides an overview of principle-based methods of moral reasoning as they apply to public health ethics including a summary of advantages and disadvantages of methods of moral reasoning that rely upon general principles of moral reasoning. Drawing upon the literature on public health ethics, examples are provided of additional principles, obligations, and rules that may be useful for analyzing complex ethical issues in public health. A framework is outlined that takes into consideration the interplay of ethical principles and rules at individual, community, national, and global levels. Concepts such as the precautionary principle and solidarity are shown to be useful to public health ethics to the extent that they can be shown to provide worthwhile guidance and information above and beyond principles of beneficence, nonmaleficence, and justice, and the clusters of rules and maxims that are linked to these moral principles. Future directions likely to be productive include further work on areas of public health ethics such as public trust, community empowerment, the rights of individuals who are targeted (or not targeted) by public health interventions, individual and community resilience and wellbeing, and further clarification of principles, obligations, and rules in public health disciplines such as environmental science, prevention and control of chronic and infectious diseases, genomics, and global health.
PMCID: PMC2804997  PMID: 20072707
4.  Falls prevention for the elderly 
An ageing population, a growing prevalence of chronic diseases and limited financial resources for health care underpin the importance of prevention of disabling health disorders and care dependency in the elderly. A wide variety of measures is generally available for the prevention of falls and fall-related injuries. The spectrum ranges from diagnostic procedures for identifying individuals at risk of falling to complex interventions for the removal or reduction of identified risk factors. However, the clinical and economic effectiveness of the majority of recommended strategies for fall prevention is unclear. Against this background, the literature analyses in this HTA report aim to support decision-making for effective and efficient fall prevention.
Research questions
The pivotal research question addresses the effectiveness of single interventions and complex programmes for the prevention of falls and fall-related injuries. The target population are the elderly (> 60 years), living in their own housing or in long term care facilities. Further research questions refer to the cost-effectiveness of fall prevention measures, and their ethical, social and legal implications.
Systematic literature searches were performed in 31 databases covering the publication period from January 2003 to January 2010. While the effectiveness of interventions is solely assessed on the basis of randomised controlled trials (RCT), the assessment of the effectiveness of diagnostic procedures also considers prospective accuracy studies. In order to clarify social, ethical and legal aspects all studies deemed relevant with regard to content were taken into consideration, irrespective of their study design. Study selection and critical appraisal were conducted by two independent assessors. Due to clinical heterogeneity of the studies no meta-analyses were performed.
Out of 12,000 references retrieved by literature searches, 184 meet the inclusion criteria. However, to a variable degree the validity of their results must be rated as compromised due to different biasing factors. In summary, it appears that the performance of tests or the application of parameters to identify individuals at risk of falling yields little or no clinically relevant information. Positive effects of exercise interventions may be expected in relatively young and healthy seniors, while studies indicate opposite effects in the fragile elderly. For this specific vulnerable population the modification of the housing environment shows protective effects. A low number of studies, low quality of studies or inconsistent results lead to the conclusion that the effectiveness of the following interventions has to be rated unclear yet: correction of vision disorders, modification of psychotropic medication, vitamin D supplementation, nutritional supplements, psychological interventions, education of nursing personnel, multiple and multifactorial programs as well as the application of hip protectors.
For the context of the German health care system the economic evaluations of fall prevention retrieved by the literature searches yield very few useful results. Cost-effectiveness calculations of fall prevention are mostly based on weak effectiveness data as well as on epidemiological and cost data from foreign health care systems.
Ethical analysis demonstrates ambivalent views of the target population concerning fall risk and the necessity of fall prevention. The willingness to take up preventive measures depends on a variety of personal factors, the quality of information, guidance and decision-making, the prevention program itself and social support.
The analysis of papers regarding legal issues shows three main challenges: the uncertainty of which standard of care has to be expected with regard to fall prevention, the necessity to consider the specific conditions of every single case when measures for fall prevention are applied, and the difficulty to balance the rights to autonomous decision making and physical integrity.
Discussion and conclusions
The assessment of clinical effectiveness of interventions for fall prevention is complicated by inherent methodological problems (esp. absence of blinding) and meaningful clinical heterogeneity of available studies. Therefore meta-analyses are not appropriate, and single study results are difficult to interpret. Both problems also impair the informative value of economic analyses. With this background it has to be stated that current recommendations regarding fall prevention in the elderly are not fully supported by scientific evidence. In particular, for the generation of new recommendations the dependency of probable effects on specific characteristics of the target populations or care settings should be taken into consideration. This also applies to the variable factors influencing the willingness of the target population to take up and pursue preventive measures.
In the planning of future studies equal weight should be placed on methodological rigour (freedom from biases) and transferability of results into routine care. Economic analyses require input of German data, either in form of a “piggy back study“ or in form of a modelling study that reflects the structures of the German health care system and is based on German epidemiological and cost data.
PMCID: PMC3334922  PMID: 22536299
accidental falls; accidents, home/*; activities of daily living; aged/*; aged/*psychology; adjustment of the living environment; cataract surgery; correction of the visual acuity; customisation of the living environment; diagnosis; dietary supplements; dose-response relationship, drug; EBM; economic evaluation; elderly; environment design; evidence-based medicine; exercise program; exercise/physiology; eye test; eyesight; eyesight test; fall; fall prevention; fall prophylaxis; fall risk; fall risk factors; falling consequences; falling danger; fall-related injuries; fracture; freedom/*; freedom-depriving measures; geriatric nursing home; health technology assessment; hip fracture; hip fractures; hip protectors; homes for the aged; HTA; humans; interventions; medical adjustment; meta-analysis as topic; motor activity; motor activity/drug effects; motor skills; motor function; multi-factorial programs; multimodal programs; nursing homes; peer review; power of movement; prevention; primary prevention; private domesticity; prophylaxis; randomized controlled trial; randomized controlled trials as topic; RCT; review literature as topic; risk assessment; risk factors; risk reduction behavior; seniors; sight; stabilized; systematic review; technology assessment, biomedical; training program; visual acuity; Vitamin D/administration & dosage
5.  Organ Transplantation: Legal, Ethical and Islamic Perspective in Nigeria 
Organ transplantation dates back to the ancient times and since then it has become one of the important developments in modern medicine; saving the lives, as well as improving the quality of life of many patients. As the demand for organ transplantation far exceeds the organ availability, the transplant program is often saddled with complex legal and ethical issues. This review article highlights the legal and ethical issues that might arise regarding organ transplantation and appraises the existing legal frame work governing organ transplantation in Nigeria. Information on legal, cultural, religious and medical ethical issues regarding organ transplantation in Nigeria was obtained by searching the PubMed and Google Scholar, conference proceedings, seminar paper presentations, law library and other related publications were collated and analyzed. In decision making for organ transplantation, the bioethical principles like autonomy, beneficence and justice must be employed. It was believed by Catholic theologians that to mutilate one living person to benefit another violates the principle of Totality. Among Muslim scholars and researchers, there are those who throw legal support as to its permissibility while the other group sees it as illegal. Organ/tissues transplantation is considered a medical intervention that touches on the fundamental rights of the donor or the recipient. Where there is an unlawful infringement of the right of such persons in any way may be regarded as against Section 34 of the 1999 Nigerian Constitution dealing with right to dignity of the human person. Worldwide, the researchers and government bodies have agreed on informed consent for organ/tissue donation and for recipient should be obtained without coercion before embarking on such medical treatment Worldwide organ transplantation has become the best medical treatment for patients with end stage organ failure. However, there is no law/legislation backing organ/tissues transplantation in Nigeria. The government should take measures to combat transplantation tourism and the problem of national and international trafficking in human tissues and organs, ethics commission and National Transplant registry should be established in order to monitor and regulate the programme in the country.
PMCID: PMC3762001  PMID: 24027394
Ethical; Islamic perspective; legal; Nigeria; organ transplantation
6.  The ethics of clinical innovation in psychopharmacology: Challenging traditional bioethics 
To assess the scientific and ethical basis for clinical innovation in psychopharmacology.
We conducted a literature review, utilizing MEDLINE search and bibliographic cross-referencing, and historical evidence regarding the discovery and development of new medications in psychiatry. Clinical innovation was defined as use of treatments in a clinical setting which have not been well-proven in a research setting.
Empirical data regarding the impact of clinical innovation in psychopharmacology are lacking. A conceptual and historical assessment of this topic highlights the ethical and scientific importance of clinical innovation. Ethically, it touches a borderline that, in our judgment, is not adequately framed in contemporary mainstream bioethics. Currently, research is viewed as not at all benefiting the patients who participate in it, while clinical care is viewed as being solely for the benefit of patients. Clinical innovation straddles these two worlds, uncomfortably at times. While many argue that clinical innovation should either be avoided or folded into research projects, we argue that clinical innovation is necessary for progress in psychopharmacology research, and that it can prosper best when guided by the following ethical principles: 1.) The treatment should be based on a viable hypothesis. 2.) Whenever possible, one's clinical observations should be reported so they can be evaluated by the scientific community. 3.) One should be willing to report unexpected observations of drug effects. 4.) A high standard of informed consent should be maintained. Again, this proposal goes against the standard view among bioethicists that research and clinical care are categorically opposed activities, as made clear by the either-or dichotomy of the Belmont Report on bioethics. This approach has so polarized our profession into clinicians versus researchers, that many clinicians will not apply new knowledge produced by clinical research until it eventually gets incorporated into formal treatment guidelines, while researchers have little to guide them as to what kind of new knowledge it is most important to provide.
Clinical innovation brings out the ambiguities in our current ethical conceptions of research versus clinical care. Yet, historically, clinical innovation has been an important contributor to progress in psychopharmacology. We argue that clinical innovation should not be discouraged, but rather it should occur under certain ethical conditions.
"Almost everyone can and should do research...because almost everyone has a unique observational opportunity at some time in his life which he has an obligation to record....If one considers the fundamental operations or methods of research, one immediately realizes that most people do research at some time or another, except that they do not call their activity by that name. There are seven operations....In simple language they are counting, sorting, measuring, comparing, nature-study, guess testing, and reappraisal....Guess testing is of course what most people think of when the word research is mentioned; except that it is bad manners to call a guess a guess. It should be called an hypothesis. Let us make one plea. Guessing becomes merely a game unless it is done in the context of a plan for action. It is a waste of time elaborating untestable hypotheses [1]."
John Cade
PMCID: PMC2204021  PMID: 17996065
7.  From Nuremberg to bioethics: an educational project for students of dentistry and dental prosthesis 
Annali di Stomatologia  2013;4(1):138-141.
In the lessons of medical-scientific methodologies of the medical faculty at the Sapienza University of Rome, basic notions on the ethical and deontologic aspects characterizing the history of the medical profession are provided, including the formulation and application of bioethical principles to clinics and biomedical research. Within such framework, an educational project has been initiated on the historical origin of the current normative and juridic dispositions in the regulation of experimental biomedical research and the relationship between health operators and patients, with particular attention to the procedure, the meaning the value either professional or deontologic, of ethics and the legality of the informed consensus. Emphasis is put on medical and experimental abuses that occurred in Germany during the nazi regime.
PMCID: PMC3671810  PMID: 23741533
history of bioethics; dentistry in the nazi Germany
8.  Bioethics Principles, Informed Consent, and Ethical Care for Special Populations: Curricular Needs Expressed by Men and Women Physicians-in-Training 
Psychosomatics  2005;46(5):440-450.
Physicians-in-training today are learning in an ethical environment that is unprecedented in its complexity. There is a call for new approaches in preparing medical students and residents for the ethical and professional issues they will encounter. The perspectives of physicians-in-training at different levels regarding the level of curricular attention needed for emerging bioethics concepts, practical informed consent considerations, and the care of special populations are unknown.
The authors performed a hypothesis-driven, confidential survey study to assess perceived needs and preferences among medical students and residents related to medical ethics education at the University of New Mexico School of Medicine.
A total of 336 physicians-in-training volunteered (62% response rate). Overall, strong interest was expressed for increased curricular attention to the domains of bioethics principles, informed consent, and care of special populations. Women students expressed greater interest generally. For certain domains, clinical students expressed relatively less curricular need and psychiatry and primary care residents expressed relatively greater curricular need. Two of the four hypotheses were supported, a third received partial support, and a fourth was not supported by the findings.
To be valuable and effective, new ethics curricular approaches must be responsive to the current complex ethical environment and attentive to the preferences of medical students and residents of both genders, at different stages of training, with different patient care responsibilities. This hypothesis-driven study provides guidance for the inclusion of novel and important ethics domains in training curricula across medical school and diverse residency programs.
PMCID: PMC1599853  PMID: 16145189
9.  Bringing prosocial values to translational, disease-specific stem cell research 
BMC Medical Ethics  2014;15:16.
Disease-specific stem cell therapies, created from induced pluripotent stem cell lines containing the genetic defects responsible for a particular disease, have the potential to revolutionize the treatment of refractory chronic diseases. Given their capacity to differentiate into any human cell type, these cell lines might be reprogrammed to correct a disease-causing genetic defect in any tissue or organ, in addition to offering a more clinically realistic model for testing new drugs and studying disease mechanisms. Clinical translation of these therapies provides an opportunity to design a more systematic, accessible and patient-influenced model for the delivery of medically innovative treatments to chronically ill patients.
I focus on disease-specific cell therapies because the types of patients who would benefit from them have congenital, severe, high-maintenance chronic conditions. They accordingly have a very strong claim for medical need and therapeutic intervention, must interact regularly with health providers, and so have the greatest stake in influencing, at a systemic level, the way their care is delivered. Given such patients’ shared, aggregate needs for societal support and access to medical innovation, they constitute “patient communities”. To reify the relevance of patient communities within a clinical context, I propose competitive grants or “prizes” to spur innovation in delivery of care, promoting “prosocial” values of transparency, equity, patient empowerment, and patient-provider and inter-institutional collaboration. As facilitators of participant-driven advocacy for health and quality of life-improving measures, patient communities may be synergistic with the broad-based, geo-culturally embedded public health networks typically referred to as “communities” in the public health literature.
Prosocial values acquire a strong ethical justification based on shared need, and can be clearly defined as grant criteria, when applied to patients such as those who will benefit from disease-specific stem cell treatments. Within this context, prosociality aims not just to expand patients’ treatment choices, but also their opportunities to take a more active role in the management of their own care and contribute towards shared goals through better-informed advocacy. Accordingly, prosociality promotes relational autonomy as well as other basic bioethical principles, including beneficence and a holistic, relational conception of human dignity.
PMCID: PMC3944397  PMID: 24575864
Stem cells; Communitarianism; Cultural studies; Patient advocacy; Moral philosophy; Behavioral economics
10.  Infusing Bioethics into Biology and Microbiology Courses and Curricula: A Vertical Approach 
With the rise of biomedicine and biotechnology, there has been a corresponding growth in the need for better understanding of consequent ethical questions. Increasingly, biologists are being asked not only to offer technical clarifications but also to venture ethical opinions, for which most feel poorly equipped. This expectation puts pressure on biology instructors at the university level to provide biology majors the skills and experience to discuss with some confidence and competence bioethical issues which may arise in either the workplace or through public discourse in everyday contexts. Many fine curricular resources about bioethics are available for varied pedagogical purposes, but few target undergraduate biology or microbiology student audiences. When it occurs in the context of a course, bioethics instruction often is taught by non-biologists outside standard biology curricula. We propose that biologists should strive to “infuse” bioethical thinking into their courses and major curricula but not in such a way as merely to point at ethical problems, treating them at a surface level. We suggest what we call “vertical infusion”: taking one bioethical issue per course and integrating this issue within the context of a relevant biological topic, challenging students to push their thinking beyond their initial intuitions toward underlying scientific and ethical principles. While the vertical approach lacks widespread coverage of ethical issues throughout a single course, it has the advantage of taking the bioethical dimension seriously and in intimate relation to contemporary discoveries in biology and to the biological principles, processes, or procedures that occasioned the ethical quandaries in the first place.
PMCID: PMC4278480  PMID: 25574281
11.  Ethical challenges related to elder care. High level decision-makers' experiences 
BMC Medical Ethics  2007;8:3.
Few empirical studies have been found that explore ethical challenges among persons in high public positions that are responsible for elder care. The aim of this paper was to illuminate the meaning of being in ethically difficult situations related to elder care as experienced by high level decision-makers.
A phenomenological-hermeneutic method was used to analyse the eighteen interviews conducted with political and civil servant high level decision-makers at the municipality and county council level from two counties in Sweden. The participants worked at a planning and control as well as executive level and had both budget and quality of elder care responsibilities.
Both ethical dilemmas and the meaning of being in ethically difficult situations related to elder care were revealed. No differences were seen between the politicians and the civil servants. The ethical dilemmas mostly concerned dealings with extensive care needs and working with a limited budget. The dilemmas were associated with a lack of good care and a lack of agreement concerning care such as vulnerable patients in inappropriate care settings, weaknesses in medical support, dissimilar focuses between the caring systems, justness in the distribution of care and deficient information. Being in ethically difficult situations was challenging. Associated with them were experiences of being exposed, having to be strategic and living with feelings such as aloneness and loneliness, uncertainty, lack of confirmation, the risk of being threatened or becoming a scapegoat and difficult decision avoidance.
Our paper provides further insight into the ethical dilemmas and ethical challenges met by high level decision-makers', which is important since the overall responsibility for elder care that is also ethically defensible rests with them. They have power and their decisions affect many stakeholders in elder care. Our results can be used to stimulate discussions between high level decision-makers and health care professionals concerning ways of dealing with ethical issues and the necessity of structures that facilitate dealing with them. Even if the high level decision-makers have learned to live with the ethical challenges that confronted them, it was obvious that they were not free from feelings of uncertainty, frustration and loneliness. Vulnerability was revealed regarding themselves and others. Their feelings of failure indicated that they felt something was at stake for the older adults in elder care and for themselves as well, in that there was the risk that important needs would go unmet.
PMCID: PMC1855928  PMID: 17419880
12.  The new Italian code of medical ethics. 
Journal of Medical Ethics  1997;23(4):239-244.
In June 1995, the Italian code of medical ethics was revised in order that its principles should reflect the ever-changing relationship between the medical profession and society and between physicians and patients. The updated code is also a response to new ethical problems created by scientific progress; the discussion of such problems often shows up a need for better understanding on the part of the medical profession itself. Medical deontology is defined as the discipline for the study of norms of conduct for the health care professions, including moral and legal norms as well as those pertaining more strictly to professional performance. The aim of deontology is therefore, the in-depth investigation and revision of the code of medical ethics. It is in the light of this conceptual definition that one should interpret a review of the different codes which have attempted, throughout the various periods of Italy's recent history, to adapt ethical norms to particular social and health care climates.
PMCID: PMC1377273  PMID: 9279746
13.  Notes on a Few Issues in the Philosophy of Psychiatry* 
Mens Sana Monographs  2009;7(1):128-183.
The first part called the Preamble tackles: (a) the issues of silence and speech, and life and disease; (b) whether we need to know some or all of the truth, and how are exact science and philosophical reason related; (c) the phenomenon of Why, How, and What; (d) how are mind and brain related; (e) what is robust eclecticism, empirical/scientific enquiry, replicability/refutability, and the role of diagnosis and medical model in psychiatry; (f) bioethics and the four principles of beneficence, non-malfeasance, autonomy, and justice; (g) the four concepts of disease, illness, sickness, and disorder; how confusion is confounded by these concepts but clarity is imperative if we want to make sense out of them; and how psychiatry is an interim medical discipline.
The second part called The Issues deals with: (a) the concepts of nature and nurture; the biological and the psychosocial; and psychiatric disease and brain pathophysiology; (b) biology, Freud and the reinvention of psychiatry; (c) critics of psychiatry, mind-body problem and paradigm shifts in psychiatry; (d) the biological, the psychoanalytic, the psychosocial and the cognitive; (e) the issues of clarity, reductionism, and integration; (f) what are the fool-proof criteria, which are false leads, and what is the need for questioning assumptions in psychiatry.
The third part is called Psychiatric Disorder, Psychiatric Ethics, and Psychiatry Connected Disciplines. It includes topics like (a) psychiatric disorder, mental health, and mental phenomena; (b) issues in psychiatric ethics; (c) social psychiatry, liaison psychiatry, psychosomatic medicine, forensic psychiatry, and neuropsychiatry.
The fourth part is called Antipsychiatry, Blunting Creativity, etc. It includes topics like (a) antipsychiatry revisited; (b) basic arguments of antipsychiatry, Szasz, etc.; (c) psychiatric classification and value judgment; (d) conformity, labeling, and blunting creativity.
The fifth part is called The Role of Philosophy, Religion, and Spirituality in Psychiatry. It includes topics like (a) relevance of philosophy to psychiatry; (b) psychiatry, religion, spirituality, and culture; (c) ancient Indian concepts and contemporary psychiatry; (d) Indian holism and Western reductionism; (e) science, humanism, and the nomothetic-idiographic orientation.
The last part, called Final Goal, talks of the need for a grand unified theory.
The whole discussion is put in the form of refutable points.
PMCID: PMC3151447  PMID: 21836785
Why, How And What; Eclecticism; Diagnosis And Medical Model In Psychiatry; Bioethics; Disease, Illness, Sickness And Disorder; Biological And Psychosocial; Critics Of Psychiatry; Mind-Body Problem And Paradigm Shifts In Psychiatry; Psychiatric Ethics; Social Psychiatry; Liaison Psychiatry; Psychosomatic Medicine; Forensic Psychiatry And Neuropsychiatry; Antipsychiatry; Blunting Creativity; Psychiatry Religion Spirituality And Culture; Ancient Indian Concepts; Science Humanism And The Nomothetic-Idiographic Orientation; Grand Unified Theory
14.  Interactions between Non-Physician Clinicians and Industry: A Systematic Review 
PLoS Medicine  2013;10(11):e1001561.
In a systematic review of studies of interactions between non-physician clinicians and industry, Quinn Grundy and colleagues found that many of the issues identified for physicians' industry interactions exist for non-physician clinicians.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
With increasing restrictions placed on physician–industry interactions, industry marketing may target other health professionals. Recent health policy developments confer even greater importance on the decision making of non-physician clinicians. The purpose of this systematic review is to examine the types and implications of non-physician clinician–industry interactions in clinical practice.
Methods and Findings
We searched MEDLINE and Web of Science from January 1, 1946, through June 24, 2013, according to PRISMA guidelines. Non-physician clinicians eligible for inclusion were: Registered Nurses, nurse prescribers, Physician Assistants, pharmacists, dieticians, and physical or occupational therapists; trainee samples were excluded. Fifteen studies met inclusion criteria. Data were synthesized qualitatively into eight outcome domains: nature and frequency of industry interactions; attitudes toward industry; perceived ethical acceptability of interactions; perceived marketing influence; perceived reliability of industry information; preparation for industry interactions; reactions to industry relations policy; and management of industry interactions. Non-physician clinicians reported interacting with the pharmaceutical and infant formula industries. Clinicians across disciplines met with pharmaceutical representatives regularly and relied on them for practice information. Clinicians frequently received industry “information,” attended sponsored “education,” and acted as distributors for similar materials targeted at patients. Clinicians generally regarded this as an ethical use of industry resources, and felt they could detect “promotion” while benefiting from industry “information.” Free samples were among the most approved and common ways that clinicians interacted with industry. Included studies were observational and of varying methodological rigor; thus, these findings may not be generalizable. This review is, however, the first to our knowledge to provide a descriptive analysis of this literature.
Non-physician clinicians' generally positive attitudes toward industry interactions, despite their recognition of issues related to bias, suggest that industry interactions are normalized in clinical practice across non-physician disciplines. Industry relations policy should address all disciplines and be implemented consistently in order to mitigate conflicts of interest and address such interactions' potential to affect patient care.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Making and selling health care goods (including drugs and devices) and services is big business. To maximize the profits they make for their shareholders, companies involved in health care build relationships with physicians by providing information on new drugs, organizing educational meetings, providing samples of their products, giving gifts, and holding sponsored events. These relationships help to keep physicians informed about new developments in health care but also create the potential for causing harm to patients and health care systems. These relationships may, for example, result in increased prescription rates of new, heavily marketed medications, which are often more expensive than their generic counterparts (similar unbranded drugs) and that are more likely to be recalled for safety reasons than long-established drugs. They may also affect the provision of health care services. Industry is providing an increasingly large proportion of routine health care services in many countries, so relationships built up with physicians have the potential to influence the commissioning of the services that are central to the treatment and well-being of patients.
Why Was This Study Done?
As a result of concerns about the tension between industry's need to make profits and the ethics underlying professional practice, restrictions are increasingly being placed on physician–industry interactions. In the US, for example, the Physician Payments Sunshine Act now requires US manufacturers of drugs, devices, and medical supplies that participate in federal health care programs to disclose all payments and gifts made to physicians and teaching hospitals. However, other health professionals, including those with authority to prescribe drugs such as pharmacists, Physician Assistants, and nurse practitioners are not covered by this legislation or by similar legislation in other settings, even though the restructuring of health care to prioritize primary care and multidisciplinary care models means that “non-physician clinicians” are becoming more numerous and more involved in decision-making and medication management. In this systematic review (a study that uses predefined criteria to identify all the research on a given topic), the researchers examine the nature and implications of the interactions between non-physician clinicians and industry.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers identified 15 published studies that examined interactions between non-physician clinicians (Registered Nurses, nurse prescribers, midwives, pharmacists, Physician Assistants, and dieticians) and industry (corporations that produce health care goods and services). They extracted the data from 16 publications (representing 15 different studies) and synthesized them qualitatively (combined the data and reached word-based, rather than numerical, conclusions) into eight outcome domains, including the nature and frequency of interactions, non-physician clinicians' attitudes toward industry, and the perceived ethical acceptability of interactions. In the research the authors identified, non-physician clinicians reported frequent interactions with the pharmaceutical and infant formula industries. Most non-physician clinicians met industry representatives regularly, received gifts and samples, and attended educational events or received educational materials (some of which they distributed to patients). In these studies, non-physician clinicians generally regarded these interactions positively and felt they were an ethical and appropriate use of industry resources. Only a minority of non-physician clinicians felt that marketing influenced their own practice, although a larger percentage felt that their colleagues would be influenced. A sizeable proportion of non-physician clinicians questioned the reliability of industry information, but most were confident that they could detect biased information and therefore rated this information as reliable, valuable, or useful.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These and other findings suggest that non-physician clinicians generally have positive attitudes toward industry interactions but recognize issues related to bias and conflict of interest. Because these findings are based on a small number of studies, most of which were undertaken in the US, they may not be generalizable to other countries. Moreover, they provide no quantitative assessment of the interaction between non-physician clinicians and industry and no information about whether industry interactions affect patient care outcomes. Nevertheless, these findings suggest that industry interactions are normalized (seen as standard) in clinical practice across non-physician disciplines. This normalization creates the potential for serious risks to patients and health care systems. The researchers suggest that it may be unrealistic to expect that non-physician clinicians can be taught individually how to interact with industry ethically or how to detect and avert bias, particularly given the ubiquitous nature of marketing and promotional materials. Instead, they suggest, the environment in which non-physician clinicians practice should be structured to mitigate the potentially harmful effects of interactions with industry.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at
This study is further discussed in a PLOS Medicine Perspective by James S. Yeh and Aaron S. Kesselheim
The American Medical Association provides guidance for physicians on interactions with pharmaceutical industry representatives, information about the Physician Payments Sunshine Act, and a toolkit for preparing Physician Payments Sunshine Act reports
The International Council of Nurses provides some guidance on industry interactions in its position statement on nurse-industry relations
The UK General Medical Council provides guidance on financial and commercial arrangements and conflicts of interest as part of its good medical practice website, which describes what is required of all registered doctors in the UK
Understanding and Responding to Pharmaceutical Promotion: A Practical Guide is a manual prepared by Health Action International and the World Health Organization that schools of medicine and pharmacy can use to train students how to recognize and respond to pharmaceutical promotion.
The Institute of Medicine's Report on Conflict of Interest in Medical Research, Education, and Practice recommends steps to identify, limit, and manage conflicts of interest
The University of California, San Francisco, Office of Continuing Medical Education offers a course called Marketing of Medicines
PMCID: PMC3841103  PMID: 24302892
15.  Experiencing everyday ethics in context: Frontline data collectors perspectives and practices of bioethics☆ 
Social Science & Medicine (1982)  2013;98(100):361-370.
Data collectors play a vital role in producing scientific knowledge. They are also an important component in understanding the practice of bioethics. Yet, very little attention has been given to their everyday experiences or the context in which they are expected to undertake these tasks. This paper argues that while there has been extensive philosophical attention given to ‘the what’ and ‘the why’ in bioethics – what action is taken place and why – these should be considered along ‘the who’ – who are the individuals tasked with bioethics and what can their insights bring to macro-level and abstract discussions of bioethics. This paper will draw on the philosophical theories of Paul Ricoeur which compliments a sociological examination of data collectors experiences and use of their agency coupled with a concern for contextual and institutional factors in which they worked.
In emphasising everyday experiences and contexts, I will argue that data collectors' practice of bioethics was shaped by their position at the frontline of face-to-face interactions with medical research participants and community members, alongside their own personal ethical values and motivations. Institutional interpretations of bioethics also imposed certain parameters on their bioethical practice but these were generally peripheral to their sense of obligation and the expectations conferred in witnessing the needs and suffering of those they encountered during their quotidian research duties.
This paper will demonstrate that although the principle of autonomy has dominated discussions of bioethics and gaining informed consent seen as a central facet of ethical research by many research institutions, for data collectors this principle was seldom the most important marker of their ethical practice. Instead, data collectors were concerned with remedying the dilemmas they encountered through enacting their own interpretations of justice and beneficence and imposing their own agency on the circumstances they experienced. Their practice of bioethics demonstrates their contribution to the conduct of research and the shortcomings of an over-emphasis on autonomy.
•Data collectors play an important role in our understanding of bioethics in practice.•Data collectors regularly witness to the pain, suffering and demands of others and this shaped their everyday experiences.•Data collectors generally felt that an emphasis on autonomy by research institutions misunderstood their daily experiences.•In practice data collectors drew on their interpretations of notions of beneficence and justice in solving their dilemmas.•Data collectors actions provides insights into what medical research and bioethics come to mean in context where health is a scarce resource.
PMCID: PMC3898703  PMID: 24210881
Data collectors; Bioethics; Medical research; Autonomy; Justice
16.  Violation of ethical principles in clinical research. Influences and possible solutions for Latin America 
BMC Medical Ethics  2012;13:35.
Even though we are now well into the 21st century and notwithstanding all the abuse to individuals involved in clinical studies that has been documented throughout History, fundamental ethical principles continue to be violated in one way or another.
Here are some of the main factors that contribute to the abuse of subjects participating in clinical trials: paternalism, improper use of informed consent, lack of strict ethical supervision, pressure exerted by health institutions to increase the production of scientific material, and the absence of legislation regarding ethics in terms of health care and research. Are researchers ready to respect fundamental ethical principles in light of the ample window of information provided by individual genomes, while defending the rights of the subjects participating in clinical studies as a major priority?
As one of the possible solutions to this problem, education regarding fundamental ethical principles is suggested for participants in research studies as an initial method of cognitive training in ethics, together with the promotion of ethical behavior in order to encourage the adoption of reasonable policies in the field of values, attitudes and behavior.
PMCID: PMC3543192  PMID: 23241478
Informed consent; Autonomy; Genomics; Ethical; Justice; Nonmaleficence; Beneficence
17.  Female genital cutting (FGC) and the ethics of care: community engagement and cultural sensitivity at the interface of migration experiences 
Female Genital Cutting (FGC) anchored in a complex socio-cultural context becomes significant at the interface of access of health and social services in host countries. The practice of FGC at times, understood as a form of gender-based violence, may result in unjustifiable consequences among girls and women; yet, these practices are culturally engrained traditions with complex meanings calling for ethically and culturally sensitive health and social service provision. Intents and meanings of FGC practice need to be well understood before before any policies that criminalize and condemn are derived and implemented.
FGC is addressed as a global public health issue with complex legal and ethical dimensions which impacts ability to access services, far beyond gender sensitivity. The ethics of terminology are addressed, building on the sustained controversial debate in regards to the delicate issue of conceptualization. An overview of international policies is provided, identifying the current trend of condemnation of FGC practices. Socio-cultural and ethical challenges are discussed in light of selected findings from a community-based research project. The illustrative examples provided focus on Western countries, with a specific emphasis on Canada.
The examples provided converge with the literature confirming the utmost necessity to engage with the FGC practicing communities allowing for ethically sensitive strategies, reduction of harm in relation to systems of care, and prevention of the risk of systematic gendered stigmatization. A culturally competent, gender and ethically sensitive approach is argued for to ensure the provision of quality ethical care for migrant families in host countries. We argue that socio-cultural determinants such as ethnicity, migration, sex and gender need to be accounted for as integral to the social construction of FGC.
Working partnerships between the public health sector and community based organisations with a true involvement of women and men from practicing communities will allow for more sensitive and congruent clinical guidelines. In order to honour the fundamental principles and values of medical ethics, such as compassion, beneficence, non-malfeasance, respect, and justice and accountability, socio-cultural interactions at the interface of health and migration will continue to require proper attention. It entails a commitment to recognise the intrinsic value and dignity of girls’ and women’s context.
PMCID: PMC4012131  PMID: 24758156
Female genital cutting; Female genital mutilation; Traditional practices; Migration; Public health; Ethics; Harm reduction; Community engagement; Cultural sensitivity
18.  Leadership and organizational ethics: the three dimensional African perspectives 
BMC Medical Ethics  2013;14(Suppl 1):S2.
This paper addresses the past, present and future aspects of African leadership and organizational ethics that have, are and will be key for any organization to sustain its systems and structures. Organizational ethics revolves around written and/or unwritten guidelines, ethical values, principles, rules and standards, that are drawn from the harmonious coexistence with the biosphere and it is how these elements are applied that dictates the style of leadership and the ethical thinking of the leaders. Africa has a wide range of complexities which are compounded by, inter alia, tribal divisiveness, selfish leadership, wealth inequality, and massive unemployment. Africans tend to draw their leadership and ethical practices and reflections from the events in the environment with which they have interacted for many years. However, in order to fully address and understand the African perspective in leadership and organizational ethics, a broad comprehension of the African diverse and complex landscape is needed through unravelling of the three dimensional existence of the people. African ethics, developed over time, unifies organizations and leadership since it is part of life and is practised, sub-consciously or unconsciously, by the people as they transform from one practice to the other, and during intergenerational transitions. Globalization, liberalization, technological changes and advancement, and market changes are rapidly transforming the environment in which organizations operate. In such a situation, an effective and true leader cannot be rigid but should be flexible, with the ability to use different leadership styles whenever the situation calls for it. Only those leaders with a three-dimensional perspective live inspiring lives, live with a cause and adopt organizational ethics and leadership styles that will stand the test of time. Despite Africa being the cradle of humankind, leadership and organizational ethics is still in its infancy and wanting, even with the new generation of young leaders. The future outlook of African organizational ethics and leadership is to be found in the intersection of changes in technology, life style, demographics and geopolitics with new trends emerging in global polity and economy.
PMCID: PMC3878217  PMID: 24564917
Bioethics; ethical approaches; leadership styles; Internet; ethics drivers
19.  Tobacco Company Efforts to Influence the Food and Drug Administration-Commissioned Institute of Medicine Report Clearing the Smoke: An Analysis of Documents Released through Litigation 
PLoS Medicine  2013;10(5):e1001450.
Stanton Glantz and colleagues investigate efforts by tobacco companies to influence Clearing the Smoke, a 2001 Institute of Medicine report on harm reduction tobacco products.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Spurred by the creation of potential modified risk tobacco products, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) commissioned the Institute of Medicine (IOM) to assess the science base for tobacco “harm reduction,” leading to the 2001 IOM report Clearing the Smoke. The objective of this study was to determine how the tobacco industry organized to try to influence the IOM committee that prepared the report.
Methods and Findings
We analyzed previously secret tobacco industry documents in the University of California, San Francisco Legacy Tobacco Documents Library, and IOM public access files. (A limitation of this method includes the fact that the tobacco companies have withheld some possibly relevant documents.) Tobacco companies considered the IOM report to have high-stakes regulatory implications. They developed and implemented strategies with consulting and legal firms to access the IOM proceedings. When the IOM study staff invited the companies to provide information on exposure and disease markers, clinical trial design for safety and efficacy, and implications for initiation and cessation, tobacco company lawyers, consultants, and in-house regulatory staff shaped presentations from company scientists. Although the available evidence does not permit drawing cause-and-effect conclusions, and the IOM may have come to the same conclusions without the influence of the tobacco industry, the companies were pleased with the final report, particularly the recommendations for a tiered claims system (with separate tiers for exposure and risk, which they believed would ease the process of qualifying for a claim) and license to sell products comparable to existing conventional cigarettes (“substantial equivalence”) without prior regulatory approval. Some principles from the IOM report, including elements of the substantial equivalence recommendation, appear in the 2009 Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act.
Tobacco companies strategically interacted with the IOM to win several favored scientific and regulatory recommendations.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Up to half of tobacco users will die of cancer, lung disease, heart disease, stroke, or another tobacco-related disease. Cigarettes and other tobacco products cause disease because they expose their users to nicotine and numerous other toxic chemicals. Tobacco companies have been working to develop a “safe” cigarette for more than half a century. Initially, their attention focused on cigarettes that produced lower tar and nicotine yields in machine-smoking tests. These products were perceived as “safer” products by the public and scientists for many years, but it is now known that the use of low-yield cigarettes can actually expose smokers to higher levels of toxins than standard cigarettes. More recently, the tobacco companies have developed other products (for example, products that heat aerosols of nicotine, rather than burning the tobacco) that claim to reduce harm and the risk of tobacco-related disease, but they can only market these modified risk tobacco products in the US after obtaining Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval. In 1999, the FDA commissioned the US Institute of Medicine (IOM, an influential source of independent expert advice on medical issues) to assess the science base for tobacco “harm reduction.” In 2001, the IOM published its report Clearing the Smoke: Assessing the Science Base for Tobacco Harm and Reduction, which, although controversial, set the tone for the development and regulation of tobacco products in the US, particularly those claiming to be less dangerous, in subsequent years.
Why Was This Study Done?
Tobacco companies have a long history of working to shape scientific discussions and agendas. For example, they have produced research results designed to “create controversy” about the dangers of smoking and secondhand smoke. In this study, the researchers investigate how tobacco companies organized to try to influence the IOM committee that prepared the Clearing the Smoke report on modified risk tobacco products by analyzing tobacco industry and IOM documents.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers searched the Legacy Tobacco Documents Library (a collection of internal tobacco industry documents released as a result of US litigation cases) for documents outlining how tobacco companies tried to influence the IOM Committee to Assess the Science Base for Tobacco Harm Reduction and created a timeline of events from the 1,000 or so documents they retrieved. They confirmed and supplemented this timeline using information in 80 files that detailed written interactions between the tobacco companies and the IOM committee, which they obtained through a public records access request. Analysis of these documents indicates that the tobacco companies considered the IOM report to have important regulatory implications, that they developed and implemented strategies with consulting and legal firms to access the IOM proceedings, and that tobacco company lawyers, consultants, and regulatory staff shaped presentations to the IOM committee by company scientists on various aspects of tobacco harm reduction products. The analysis also shows that tobacco companies were pleased with the final report, particularly its recommendation that tobacco products can be marketed with exposure or risk reduction claims provided the products substantially reduce exposure and provided the behavioral and health consequences of these products are determined in post-marketing surveillance and epidemiological studies (“tiered testing”) and its recommendation that, provided no claim of reduced exposure or risk is made, new products comparable to existing conventional cigarettes (“substantial equivalence”) can be marketed without prior regulatory approval.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that tobacco companies used their legal and regulatory staff to access the IOM committee that advised the FDA on modified risk tobacco products and that they used this access to deliver specific, carefully formulated messages designed to serve their business interests. Although these findings provide no evidence that the efforts of tobacco companies influenced the IOM committee in any way, they show that the companies were satisfied with the final IOM report and its recommendations, some of which have policy implications that continue to reverberate today. The researchers therefore call for the FDA and other regulatory bodies to remember that they are dealing with companies with a long history of intentionally misleading the public when assessing the information presented by tobacco companies as part of the regulatory process and to actively protect their public-health policies from the commercial interests of the tobacco industry.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
This study is further discussed in a PLOS Medicine Perspective by Thomas Novotny
The World Health Organization provides information about the dangers of tobacco (in several languages); for information about the tobacco industry's influence on policy, see the 2009 World Health Organization report Tobacco interference with tobacco control
A PLOS Medicine Research Article by Heide Weishaar and colleagues describes tobacco company efforts to undermine the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, an international instrument for tobacco control
Wikipedia has a page on tobacco harm reduction (note: Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit; available in several languages)
The IOM report Clearing the Smoke: Assessing the Science Base for Tobacco Harm Reduction is available to read online
The Legacy Tobacco Documents Library is a public, searchable database of tobacco company internal documents detailing their advertising, manufacturing, marketing, sales, and scientific activities
The University of California, San Francisco Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education is the focal point for University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) scientists in disciplines ranging from the molecular biology of nicotine addiction through political science who combine their efforts to eradicate the use of tobacco and tobacco-induced cancer and other diseases worldwide
SmokeFree, a website provided by the UK National Health Service, offers advice on quitting smoking and includes personal stories from people who have stopped smoking, from the US National Cancer Institute, offers online tools and resources to help people quit smoking
PMCID: PMC3665841  PMID: 23723740
20.  Donation after cardiocirculatory death in Canada 
These recommendations are the result of a national, multidisciplinary, year-long process to discuss whether and how to proceed with organ donation after cardiocirculatory death (DCD) in Canada. A national forum was held in February 2005 to discuss and develop recommendations on the principles, procedures and practice related to DCD, including ethical and legal considerations. At the forum's conclusion, a strong majority of participants supported proceeding with DCD programs in Canada. The forum also recognized the need to formulate and emphasize core values to guide the development of programs and protocols based on the medical, ethical and legal framework established at this meeting.
Although end-of-life care should routinely include the opportunity to donate organs and tissues, the duty of care toward dying patients and their families remains the dominant priority of health care teams. The complexity and profound implications of death are recognized and should be respected, along with differing personal, ethnocultural and religious perspectives on death and donation. Decisions around withdrawal of life-sustaining therapies, management of the dying process and the determination of death by cardiocirculatory criteria should be separate from and independent of donation and transplant processes.
The recommendations in this report are intended to guide individual programs, regional health authorities and jurisdictions in the development of DCD protocols. Programs will develop based on local leadership and advance planning that includes education and engagement of stakeholders, mechanisms to assure safety and quality and public information. We recommend that programs begin with controlled DCD within the intensive care unit where (after a consensual decision to withdraw life-sustaining therapy) death is anticipated, but has not yet occurred, and unhurried consent discussions can be held. Uncontrolled donation (where death has occurred after unanticipated cardiac arrest) should only be considered after a controlled DCD program is well established. Although we recommend that programs commence with kidney donation, regional transplant expertise may guide the inclusion of other organs. The impact of DCD, including pre-and post-mortem interventions, on donor family experiences, organ availability, graft function and recipient survival should be carefully documented and studied.
PMCID: PMC1635157  PMID: 17124739
21.  The introduction of medical humanities in the undergraduate curriculum of Greek medical schools: challenge and necessity 
Hippokratia  2010;14(4):241-243.
Background and Aim: Medical humanities is a multidisciplinary field, consisting of humanities (theory of literature and arts, philosophy, ethics, history and theology), social sciences (anthropology, psychology and sociology) and arts (literature, theater, cinema, music and visual arts), integrated in the undergraduate curriculum of Medical schools. The aim of the present study is to discuss medical humanities and support the necessity of introduction of a medical humanities course in the curriculum of Greek medical schools.
Materials, Methods and Results: Through the relevant Pub-Med search as well as taking into account various curricula of medical schools, it is evident that medical education today is characterized by acquisition of knowledge and skills and development of medical values and attitudes. Clinical observation with the recognition of key data and patterns in the collected information, is crucial in the final medical decision, i.e. in the complex process, through which doctors accumulate data, reach conclusions and decide on therapy. All sciences included in medical humanities are important for the high quality education of future doctors. The practice of Medicine is in large an image-related science. The history of anatomy and art are closely related, already from the Renaissance time. Studies have shown that attendance of courses on art critics improves the observational skills of medical students. Literature is the source of information about the nature and source of human emotions and behavior and of narratives of illness, and increases imagination. Philosophy aids in the development of analytical and synthetical thinking. Teaching of history of medicine develops humility and aids in avoiding the repetition of mistakes of the past, and quite often raises research and therapeutic skepticism. The comprehension of medical ethics and professional deontology guides the patient-doctor relationship, as well as the relations between physicians and their colleagues. The Medical Humanities course, which is already integrated in the undergraduate curriculum of many medical schools of Europe, USA and Australia, includes lectures by experts and students presentations on the above-mentioned areas and could be offered, for a semester, during the first years.
Conclusion: The aim of Medical Humanities course is the development of imagination and interpretation of data through analytical complex procedures, the development of skills of close observation and careful interpretation of the patient "language" and the enhancement of empathy for the patients, as well as the development of the physician-patient relationship and finally the conceptualization/construction of personal and professional values.
PMCID: PMC3031316  PMID: 21311630
medical humanities; Greece; medical school; review
22.  Ethical aspects of obstetric care: expectations and experiences of patients in South East Nigeria 
Medical ethics is not given due priority in obstetric care in many developing countries, and the extent to which patients value compliance with ethical precepts is largely unexplored.
To describe the expectations and experiences of obstetric patients in South East Nigeria with respect to how medical ethics principles were adhered to during their care.
This was a cross-sectional, questionnaire-based study involving parturient women followed in three tertiary hospitals in South East Nigeria.
A total of 1,112 women were studied. The mean age of respondents was 29.7 ± 4.1 years. Approximately 98% had at least secondary education. Ninety-six percent considered ethical aspects of care as important. On the average, over 75% of patients expected their doctors to comply with the different principles of medical ethics and specifically, more than 76% of respondents expected their doctors to comply with ethical principles related to information and consent during their antenatal and delivery care. There was a statistically significant difference between the proportions of women who expected compliance of doctors with ethical principles and those who did not (P < 0.001). Multivariate analysis showed that increasing levels of skilled occupation (odds ratio [OR] 9.35, P < 0.001), and residence in urban areas (OR 2.41, P < 0.001) increased the likelihood of patients expecting to be informed about their medical conditions and their opinions being sought. Although the self-reported experiences of patients concerning adherence to ethical principles by doctors were encouraging, experiences fell short of expectations, as the level of expectation of patients was significantly higher than the level of observed compliance for all the principles of medical ethics.
The level of practice of medical ethics principles by doctors during obstetric care in South East Nigeria was encouraging but still fell short of the expectations of patients. It is recommended that curriculum-based training of doctors and medical students should be implemented, and hospital policy makers should do more to promote ethical aspects of care, by providing official written guidelines for adherence to medical ethical principles during obstetric care.
PMCID: PMC3772694  PMID: 24043956
medical ethics; obstetric care; principles
23.  Radiological informed consent in cardiovascular imaging: towards the medico-legal perfect storm? 
Use of radiation for medical examinations and tests is the largest manmade source of radiation exposure. No one can doubt the immense clinical and scientific benefits of imaging to the modern practice of medicine. Every radiological and nuclear medicine examination confers a definite (albeit low) long-term risk of cancer, but patients undergoing such examinations often receive no or inaccurate information about radiological dose exposure and corresponding risk directly related to the radiological dose received. Too detailed information on radiological dose and risk may result in undue anxiety, but information "economical with the truth" may violate basic patients' rights well embedded in ethics (Oviedo convention 1997) and law (97/43 Euratom Directive 1997). Informed consent is a procedure needed to establish a respectful and ethical relation between doctors and patients. Nevertheless, in an "ideal" consent process, the principle of patient autonomy in current radiological practice might be reinforced by making it mandatory to obtain explicit and transparent informed consent form for radiological examination with high exposure (≥ 500 chest x-rays). The form may spell-out the type of examination, the exposure in effective dose (mSv), derived from reference values in guidelines or – better – from actual values from their department. The dose equivalent might be also expressed in number of chest radiographs and the risk of cancer as number of extra cases in the exposed population, derived from most recent and authorative guidelines (e.g., BEIR VII Committee, release 2006). Common sense, deontological code, patients'rights, medical imaging guidelines, Euratom law, all coherently and concordantly encourage and recommend a justified, optimized, responsible and informed use of testing with ionizing radiation. Although the idea of informed consent for radiation dose does not seem to be on the immediate radar screen at least in the US, the current practice clashes against these guidelines and laws.
PMCID: PMC2092418  PMID: 17916235
24.  HIV Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP)—A Quantitative Ethics Appraisal 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(8):e22497.
There is now strong evidence that preventive oral antiretroviral therapy can moderately reduce likelihood of HIV infection. This concept is called HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP). Premature closures of some previous PrEP clinical trials, secondary to ethical concerns, did not stop research. We aimed to appraise the extent of ethics considerations reporting in PrEP study documents.
We conducted a systematic quantitative ethics appraisal, grounded in PrEP literature and using eight principles proposed by Ezechiel Emanuel. We developed an a priori checklist of 101 evidence-based ethics items. We obtained protocols for eleven of nineteen clinical controlled studies identified. Two reviewers independently appraised study documents against the checklist. Ethics appraisal was synthesized using adjusted percentages of items reported.
On average, 58% of the 101 ethics items were mentioned or addressed in documents, with variations noted both across studies and across principles. Considerations pertaining to social value were least reported (43% of checklist items, on average) whereas considerations related to informed consent and favorable risk-benefit ratio were most reported (75% of checklist items, on average).
Some PrEP studies reportedly address more ethics considerations than others but, overall, ethics considerations reporting could be much improved. While this review does not allow us to comment on the actual execution of HIV PrEP trials, it is a reminder that optimism generated by potentially effective interventions should not overshadow the importance of ethics in research design and development. Improving ethics reporting might improve the perceived value of PrEP research and subsequent data.
PMCID: PMC3151244  PMID: 21850229
25.  The ethics of human volunteer studies involving experimental exposure to pesticides: unanswered dilemmas 
Environmental Health  2010;9:50.
The controversy about the use of data from human volunteer studies involving experimental exposure to pesticides as part of regulatory risk assessment has been widely discussed, but the complex and interrelated scientific and ethical issues remain largely unresolved. This discussion paper, generated by authors who comprised a workgroup of the ICOH Scientific Committee on Rural Health, reviews the use of human experimental studies in regulatory risk assessment for pesticides with a view to advancing the debate as to when, if ever, such studies might be ethically justifiable. The discussion is based on three elements: (a) a review of discussion papers on the topic of human testing of pesticides and the positions adopted by regulatory agencies in developed countries; (b) an analysis of published and unpublished studies involving human testing with pesticides, both in the peer-reviewed literature and in the JMPR database; and (c) application of an ethical analysis to the problem. The paper identifies areas of agreement which include general principles that may provide a starting point on which to base criteria for judgements as to the ethical acceptability of such studies. However, the paper also highlights ongoing unresolved differences of opinion inherent in ethical analysis of contentious issues, which we propose should form a starting point for further debate and the development of guidelines to achieve better resolution of this matter.
PMCID: PMC2931486  PMID: 20718963

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