An exploration of how ethics informs healthcare practice

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Moral complexities exist in every day health care practice creating conflicting responsibilities in providing care. Health care ethics (HCE) enable an applied practical linkage of theory and practice to create professional behaviour that focuses on service user benefit.

Research Question/Aim
This study explored how health care practitioners located in the UK embodied health care ethics in their practice. The study focussed on participants from the professions of physiotherapy and podiatry currently practising in the UK.

Research Design
Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis as a hermeneutical approach was utilised. Whilst always involving interpretation, this method has the ability to describe the human experience as it is lived.

Participants and research context
Purposively sampled individual interviews were carried out (n=21) in an attempt to interpret the participants’ lifeworld of embodied HCE. The preliminary findings were taken to a purposively sampled group interview for discussion which contributed to further interpretation.

Five themes emerged from the data indicating a desire by participants to extol ethical practice, but acknowledged various limitations in the reality of achieving this.

Ethical decision making may be enhanced by character virtues including empathy. Empathy is a basic condition and source of morality. As a central component of phronesis, empathy may enable understanding of a service user’s needs and increase motivation for Health Care Practitioners to act accordingly.

Key words
Ethics; Empathy; Phronesis; Virtue; Hermeneutics; Healthcare; Guidelines; Phenomenology
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)27-42
Number of pages16
JournalEthics and Medicine
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 21 Mar 2019


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