Defining and categorizing outcomes of Moral Case Deliberation (MCD): Concept mapping with experienced MCD participants

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Background: To support healthcare professionals in dealing with ethically difficult situations, Clinical Ethics Support (CES) services like Moral Case Deliberation (MCD) are increasingly implemented. To assess the impact of CES, it is important to evaluate outcomes. Despite general claims about outcomes from MCD experts and some qualitative research, there exists no conceptual analysis of outcomes yet. Therefore, the aim of this study was to systematically define and categorize MCD outcomes. An additional aim was to compare these outcomes with the outcomes in the Euro-MCD Instrument from 2014, to further validate this Instrument. Methods: The concept mapping method was used and involves qualitative and quantitative steps including brainstorming, individual structuring, computation of concept maps (by principal component analysis and cluster analysis), group interpretation and utilization. In total, 12 experienced MCD participants from a variety of professional backgrounds participated in two sessions. Results: The focus group brainstorm resulted in a list of 85 possible MCD outcomes, of which a point map and concept maps were constructed. After a thorough discussion of each cluster, final consensus was reached on the names and position of 8 clusters of MCD outcomes: 1) Organisation and Policy; 2) Team development; 3) Personal development focused on the Other Person; 4) Personal development as Professional, focused on Skills; 5) Personal development as Professional, focused on Knowledge; 6) Personal development as an Individual; 7) Perception and Connection; and 8) Concrete action. Conclusions: This study explored and categorized MCD outcomes in a concept mapping focus group. When comparing the results with the Euro-MCD Instrument, our study confirms that outcomes of MCD can be categorized in clusters referring to the organisational level, team development, personal development (both as an individual and a professional) and the concrete case-level. In developing CES evaluation tools, it is important to be explicit if an outcome refers to the individual or the team, to knowledge or skills, to the organisation or the specific case. The findings will be used in the further validation of the Euro-MCD Instrument. The current study further contributes to the field of evaluating CES in general and defining outcomes of MCD in particular.
Original languageEnglish
Article number88
JournalBMC medical ethics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • Clinical ethics support
  • Concept mapping
  • Evaluation
  • Moral case deliberation
  • Outcomes

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