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Ethical guidelines and the prevention of abuse in healthcare
Linköpings universitet.
Linköpings universitet.
Linköpings universitet.
Linköpings universitet.
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2012 (English)In: European Journal of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Biology, ISSN 0301-2115, E-ISSN 1872-7654, Vol. 165, no 1, p. 18-28Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Objective

In obstetrical and gynaecological healthcare, patients often find themselves in a vulnerable position. Sensitive issues such as sexual and reproductive health are addressed and certain procedures can be experienced as abusive. According to research a lifetime prevalence of abuse in healthcare (AHC) can be assumed for 13–28% of female patients in the Nordic countries. In the present study we analyse the content of ethical documents for healthcare professionals within obstetrics and gynaecology in Sweden, in order to find out to what extent ethical guidelines consider issues that have shown to be related to the occurrence of AHC.

Study design

We searched the literature to find empirical data on AHC. Guidelines for nurses, midwives and physicians were selected. After developing an analytical framework based on the empirical data the content of the ethical guidelines was analysed.

Results

The various ethical guidelines for staff working within obstetrics and gynaecology differ distinctively from each other regarding their content of issues that are related to AHC. Issues that were mostly disregarded were: considering the patient's perspective and the patients’ possible experience of violence, considering power imbalances within healthcare, sexual misconduct, how to deal with other professional's ethical misconduct and how professionals relate to each other. We found the ethical guidelines of the International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics (FIGO) and of the International Confederation of Midwives to be those which contained most of the issues that have empirically shown to be important in regard to AHC.

Conclusion

While staff members from different professions may share responsibility for the same patient, their ethical guidelines vary considerably. To become a possible resource for prevention of AHC, we suggest that ethical guidelines in healthcare should be revised following empirical research on ethical conduct. As ethical guidelines cannot be effective by their existence only, we would like to initiate a discussion on the function and use of ethical guidelines in general and regarding AHC in particular. Being aware that ethical guidelines are only a part of ethics in healthcare, however, we envision a broader approach to the aim of preventing AHC, where research is encouraged on how a virtue ethics approach could be applied.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2012. Vol. 165, no 1, p. 18-28
Keywords [en]
Abuse in health care, Quality of care, Patient safety, Ethical guidelines, Virtue ethics
National Category
Medical Ethics Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Medicine
Research subject
Health and Caring Sciences
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:lnu:diva-32057DOI: 10.1016/j.ejogrb.2012.07.018OAI: oai:DiVA.org:lnu-32057DiVA, id: diva2:697434
Available from: 2014-02-18 Created: 2014-02-05 Last updated: 2017-12-06Bibliographically approved

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Swahnberg, Katarina

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European Journal of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Biology
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