Implementing moral case deliberation in a psychiatric hospital: Process and outcome

Bert Molewijk, Maarten Verkerk, Henk Milius, Guy Widdershoven

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

83 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Clinical moral case deliberation consists of the systematic reflection on a concrete moral case-by health care professionals. This paper presents the study of a 4-year moral deliberation project. Objectives: The objectives of this paper are to: (a) describe the practice and the theoretical background of moral deliberation, (b) describe the moral deliberation project, (c) present the outcomes of the evaluation of the moral case deliberation sessions, and (d) present the implementation process. Methods: The implementation process is both monitored and supported by an interactive responsive evaluation design with: (a) in-depth interviews, (b) Maastricht evaluation questionnaires, (c) evaluation survey, and (d) ethnographic participant observation. In accordance with the theory of responsive evaluation, researchers acted both as evaluators and moderators (i.e. ethicists). Results: Both qualitative and quantitative results showed that the moral case deliberations, the role of the ethics facilitator, and the train-the-facilitator program were regarded as useful and were evaluated as (very) positive. Health care professionals reported that they improved their moral competencies (i.e. knowledge, attitude and skills). However, the new trained facilitators lacked a clear organisational structure and felt overburdened with the implementation process. The paper ends with both practical and research suggestions for future moral deliberation projects.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)43-56
Number of pages14
JournalMedicine, Health Care and Philosophy
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2008


  • Clinical moral case deliberation
  • Implementation
  • Moral competency
  • Responsive evaluation design
  • Train-the-facilitator program

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