Ethics. Research. Community.

Autonomy, privacy and informed consent 3: elderly care perspective.

British journal of nursing (Mark Allen Publishing). 
2003 Feb 13-26
[Record Source: PubMed]
Despite the growing interest in clinical healthcare ethics, there is a dearth of empirical studies investigating the ethical elements of day-to-day clinical practice from the perspective of either patients or staff. This article, the third in a four-part series, reports the results of a Scottish Study that formed part of a multi-site comparative study funded by the European Commission. It explores patient autonomy, privacy and informed consent in the care of elderly people in long-stay care facilities (i.e. nursing homes and continuing care units). A convenience sample of 101 elderly residents and their nurses (n = 160) participated in the study. Data were collected by means of a self-completion questionnaire for staff and a structured interview schedule for elderly residents. Results indicate marked differences between staff's and residents' responses on three of the four dimensions explored: information-giving, and opportunity to participate in decision-making about care and consent. There was much closer agreement between staff's and residents' responses regarding protection of patient privacy. From the results of this study there is indication of a clear need for further empirical studies exploring issues of patient autonomy, privacy and informed consent in the day-to-day nursing care of older people. Findings to date suggest there is still a significant need to educate staff concerning ethical awareness and sensitivity to the dignity and rights of patients.
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