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Falling on deaf ears: a qualitative study on clinical ethical committees in France

Abstract : The French medical context is characterized by institutionalization of the ethical reflection in health care facilities and an important disparity between spaces of ethical reflection. In theory, the healthcare professional may mobilise an arsenal of resources to help him in his ethical reflection. But what happens in practice? We conducted semi-structured interviews with 22 health-care professionals who did and did not have recourse to clinical ethical committees. We also implemented two focus groups with 18 professionals involved in various spaces of ethical reflection in order to let them debate about a better way to organize ethical reflection in their institutional contexts. The qualitative analysis allows to us to underline the coexistence of different conceptions of ethics among health care professionals. We also observed that the participants in our study shared the experience of ethically problematic situations as roadblocks in the process of communication and decision-making. We therefore report the factors which favour or inhibit the ethical course leading to the resolution or at the very least soothing of the situation at hand. Finally, we discuss methodological issues and underline the fact that while the patient is at the heart of the professional's ethical preoccupations, this does not imply that they are actors in decisions that concern them.
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Catherine Dekeuwer, Brenda Bogaert, Nadja Eggert, Claire Harpet, Morgane Romero. Falling on deaf ears: a qualitative study on clinical ethical committees in France. Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy, Springer Verlag, 2019, 22 (4), pp.515-529. ⟨10.1007/s11019-019-09907-5⟩. ⟨hal-02950088⟩

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