The Diversity Compass: a clinical ethics support instrument for dialogues on diversity in healthcare organizations

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background: Increasing social pluralism adds to the already existing variety of heterogeneous moral perspectives on good care, health, and quality of life. Pluralism in social identities is also connected to health and care disparities for minoritized patient (i.e. care receiver) populations, and to specific diversity-related moral challenges of healthcare professionals and organizations that aim to deliver diversity-responsive care in an inclusive work environment. Clinical ethics support (CES) services and instruments may help with adequately responding to these diversity-related moral challenges. However, although various CES instruments exist to support healthcare professionals with dealing well with morally challenging situations in healthcare, current tools do not address challenges specifically related to moral pluralism and intersectional aspects of diversity and social justice issues. This article describes the content and developmental process of a novel CES instrument called the Diversity Compass. This instrument was designed with and for healthcare professionals to dialogically address and reflect on moral challenges related to intersectional aspects of diversity and social justice issues that they experience in daily practice. Methods: We used a participatory development design to develop the Diversity Compass at a large long-term care organization in a major city in the Netherlands. Over a period of thirteen months, we conducted seven focus groups with healthcare professionals and peer-experts, carried out five expert interviews, and facilitated four meetings with a community of practice consisting of various healthcare professionals who developed and tested preliminary versions of the instrument throughout three cycles of iterative co-creation. Results: The Diversity Compass is a practical, dialogical CES instrument that is designed as a small booklet and includes an eight-step deliberation method, as well as a guideline with seven recommendations to support professionals with engaging in dialogue when they are confronted with diversity-related moral challenges. The seven recommendations are key components in working toward creating an inclusive and safe space for dialogue to occur. Conclusions: The Diversity Compass seeks to support healthcare professionals and organizations in their efforts to facilitate awareness, moral learning and joint reflection on moral challenges related to diversity and social justice issues. It is the first dialogical CES instrument that specifically acknowledges the role of social location in shaping moral perspectives or experiences with systemic injustices. However, to make healthcare more just, an instrument like the Diversity Compass is not enough on its own. In addition to the Diversity Compass, a systemic and structural approach to social justice issues in healthcare organizations is needed in order to foster a more inclusive, safe and diversity-responsive care and work environment in health care organizations.
Original languageEnglish
Article number4
JournalBMC medical ethics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2024


  • Clinical ethics support
  • Diversity
  • Healthcare
  • Healthcare organizations
  • Inclusion
  • Social justice

Cite this