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Nurs Ethics. 2004 Sep;11(5):444-58.

A qualitative analysis of ethical problems experienced by physicians and nurses in intensive care units in Turkey.

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Faculty of Medicine, Medical Ethics Department, Baskent University, Eskisehir Yolu, Ankara, Turkey.


In this qualitative study, we aimed to identify and compare the ethical problems perceived by physicians and nurses in intensive care units at Baskent University hospitals in Turkey. A total of 21 physicians and 22 nurses were asked to describe ethical problems that they frequently encounter in their practice. The data were analyzed using an interactive model. The core problem for both physicians and nurses was end-of-life decisions (first level). In this category, physicians were most frequently concerned with euthanasia while nurses were more concerned with do-not-resuscitate orders (second level). At the third level, we saw that almost all of the participants' responses related to negative perceptions about euthanasia. Communication and hierarchical problems were the second most reported main category. Nurses were more likely to cite problems with hierarchy than physicians. At the third level, a large percentage of nurses described communication problems with authority and hierarchical problems with physicians. In the same category, physicians were most often concerned with communication problems with patients' relatives. The ethical problems were reported at different frequencies by physicians and nurses. We asked the participants about ethical decision-making styles. The results show that nurses and physicians do not follow a systematic pattern of ethical decision making.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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