Ethics case reflection sessions: Enablers and barriers

Cecilia Bartholdson, Bert Molewijk, Kim Lützén, Klas Blomgren, Pernilla Pergert

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BACKGROUND: In previous research on ethics case reflection (ECR) sessions about specific cases, healthcare professionals in childhood cancer care were clarifying their perspectives on the ethical issue to resolve their main concern of consolidating care. When perspectives were clarified, consequences in the team included 'increased understanding', 'group strengthening' and 'decision grounding'. Additional analysis of the data was needed on conditions that could contribute to the quality of ECR sessions.

OBJECTIVE: The aim of this study was to explore conditions for clarifying perspectives during ECR sessions.

RESEARCH DESIGN: Data were collected from observations and interviews and the results emerged from an inductive analysis using grounded theory. Participants and research context: Six observations during ECR sessions and 10 interviews were performed with healthcare professionals working in childhood cancer care and advanced paediatric homecare. Ethical considerations: The study was approved by a regional ethical review board. Participants were informed about their voluntary involvement and that they could withdraw their participation without explaining why.

FINDINGS: Two categories emerged: organizational enablers and barriers and team-related enablers and barriers. Organizational enablers and barriers included the following sub-categories: the timing of the ECR session, the structure during the ECR session and the climate during the ECR session. Sub-categories to team-related enablers and barriers were identified as space for inter-professional perspectives, varying levels of ethical skills and space for the patient's and the family's perspectives.

DISCUSSION: Space for inter-professional perspectives included the dominance of a particular perspective that can result from hierarchical positions. The medical perspective is relevant for understanding the child's situation but should not dominate the ethical reflection.

CONCLUSION: Conditions for ECR sessions have been explored and the new knowledge can be used when training facilitators as well as for those who organize/implement ECR sessions. Awareness of space for different perspectives, including the possible medical advantage over the nursing perspective, could reduce the somewhat unilateral attention and contribute to an inter-professionally shared reflection.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)199-211
Number of pages13
JournalNursing ethics
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2018


  • Journal Article

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