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What Does Empirical Research Contribute to Medical Ethics?: A Methodological Discussion Using Exemplary Studies

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1. Reiter-Theil, S.Does empirical research make bioethics more relevant? “The embedded researcher” as a methodological approach. Medicine, Healthcare and Philosophy 2004;7(1):1729.

2. Førde, R.How can empirical ethics improve medical practice? Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics 2012;21(4):517526.

3. Some authors use the term “EE” with a focus on practical work in clinical ethics, e.g., Widdershoven, G, Abma, T, Molewijk, B.Empirical ethics as dialogical practice. Bioethics 2009;23(4):23648.

4. Hope, T.Empirical medical ethics. Journal of Medical Ethics 1999;25(3):21920.

5. Sugarman, J, Sulmasy, DP. The many methods of medical ethics. In: Sugarman, J, Sulmasy, DP, eds. Methods in Medical Ethics. Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press; 2001:318.

6. Solomon, M.Realizing bioethics’ goals in practice: Ten ways “is” can help “ought.” Hastings Center Report 2005;35(4):407.

7. Empirical ethics [special issue]. American Journal of Bioethics 2009;9(6–7). Empirical turn [special issue]. Bioethics 2009;23(4).

8. Kon, AA.The role of empirical research in bioethics. American Journal of Bioethics 2009;9(6–7):5965.

9. Empirical ethics [special issue]. Bioethics 2009;23(4).

10. Molewijk, B, Stiggelbout, AM, Otten, W, Dupuis, HM, Kievit, J. Empirical data and moral theory: A plea for integrated empirical ethics. Medicine, Healthcare and Philosophy 2004;7(1):5569.

11. As described by De Vries R. How can we help? From “sociology in” to “sociology of” bioethics. Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics 2004;32(2):27992.

12. Mertz M. 2009. Zur Möglichkeit einer evidenzbasierten Klinischen Ethik: Philosophische Untersuchungen zur Verwendung von Empirie und Evidenz in der (Medizin-)Ethik [About the possibility of an evidence-based clinical ethics: Philosophical investigations about the use of the “empirical” and “evidence” in (medical) ethics] [master’s thesis]. Munich/Ravensburg: GRIN Verlag.

13. Sugarman, J, Kass, N, Faden, R.Categorizing empirical research in bioethics: Why count the ways? American Journal of Bioethics 2009;9(6–7):66103.

14. See note 12, Mertz 2009.

15. See note 1.

16. Research on clinical ethics and consultation [thematic section]. Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy 2008;11(1).

17. Pfaefflin, M, Kobert, K, Reiter-Theil, S.Evaluating clinical ethics consultation. Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics 2009;18(4):40619.

18. Hentschel, R, Lindner, K, Krüger, M, Reiter-Theil, S.Restrictions of ongoing intensive care (RIC) in neonates—a prospective study. Pediatrics 2006;118:5639.

19. Forde, R, Hansen, TWR.Involving patients and relatives in a Norwegian clinical ethics committee: What have we learned? Clinical Ethics 2009;4:125130.

20. Faden, RR, Beauchamp, TL.A History and Theory of Informed Consent. New York: Oxford University Press; 1986.

21. Dalla-Vorgia, P, Mason, S, Megone, C, Allmark, P, Bratlid, B, Gill, AB, et al. . Obtaining informed consent for neonatal research. ADC Fetal & Neonatal Edition 2001;84:F70F73.

22. Hurst, S, Forde, R, Reiter-Theil, S, Perrier, A, Slowther, AM, Pegoraro, R, et al. . Physicians’ access to ethics support services in four European countries. Health Care Analysis 2007;15:32135.

23. Nuckton, TJ, List, ND.Age as a factor in critical care unit admissions. Archive of Internal Medicine 1995;155:108792.

24. Callahan, D.Setting Limits: Medical Goals in an Aging Society. New York: Simon & Schuster; 1987.

25. Callahan, D. Aging and the allocation of resources. In: Oberender, P, ed. Alter und Gesundheit. Baden-Baden: Nomos; 1996:8392.

26. The principle follows the tradition of Kant and is often attributed to Hans Albert: Albert, H.Treatise on Critical Reason. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press; 1985.

27. After initial skeptical reactions, the National Medical Academy put the topic on its agenda.

28. Winkler, E, Reiter-Theil, S, Lange-Rieß, D, Schmahl-Menges, N, Hiddemann, W.Patient involvement in decisions to limit treatment: The crucial role of agreement between physician and patient. Journal of Clinical Oncology 2009;27(13):222530.

29. Charles, CA, Gafni, A, Whelan, T, Willan, A, Farrell, S.Shared decision making: What does it mean to physicians? Journal of Clinical Oncology 2003;21:9326.

30. Charles, CA, Gafni, A, Whelan, T.Decision-making in the physician-patient encounter: Revisiting the shared treatment decision-making model. Social Science & Medicine 1999;49:65161.

31. “Dialectic,” according to Hegel, refers to the necessary process that makes up progress in both thought and the world. The process is one of overcoming the contradiction between thesis and antithesis, by means of synthesis; the synthesis in turn becomes contradicted, and the process continues (after Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy. Oxford: Oxford University Press; 1996).

32. Regulative idea, after Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy, see note 31.

33. Reidun Førde has pointed out this analogy, which deserves more exploration from both epistemological and ethical perspectives.

34. Reiter-Theil, S, Agich, GJ.Research on clinical ethics and consultation: Introduction to the thematic section. Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy 2008;11(1):35.

35. METAP is an evidence-oriented guideline providing knowledge and procedures for clinical ethics support; the acronym stands for modular, ethical treatment decisions, allocation of resources at the micro level, and process.

36. Reiter-Theil, S, Mertz, M, Schürmann, J, Stingelin Giles, N, Meyer-Zehnder, B.Evidence - competence - discourse: The theoretical framework of the multi-centre clinical ethics support project METAP. Bioethics 2011;25(7):403–12.

The author thanks the European Association of Centres of Medical Ethics (EACME) and the hosts of the 2010 annual conference in Oslo for their honorable invitation to give the first keynote lecture, which is the basis of this article.

The exchange of ideas with Professor Reidun Førde (Oslo) and Professor Anne Slowther (Warwick), who also gave helpful comments on an earlier version, is particularly appreciated.

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Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics
  • ISSN: 0963-1801
  • EISSN: 1469-2147
  • URL: /core/journals/cambridge-quarterly-of-healthcare-ethics
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