Ethics in a time of contagion: a relational perspective

Can J Nurs Res. 2008 Dec;40(4):10-24.


In times of contagion, the key role of nurses brings fears, dangers, and unique demands. The ethics of such challenges need to be explored and understood. Using Callahan's framework for thinking ethically and Taylor's "worries" of modern life, the author elucidates some of the challenges and then argues that the current approach to pandemic ethics, with its reliance on moral reasoning, is insufficient to guide nurses' ethical actions. Relational ethics, which explicitly situates ethics within relationships and our commitment to one another, and which recognizes that context matters in ethical decision-making, is offered as a viable alternative for nurses in considering how to respond.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Bioethics
  • Community Participation
  • Disaster Planning / organization & administration
  • Disease Outbreaks / ethics*
  • Disease Outbreaks / prevention & control
  • Ethical Analysis
  • Ethics, Nursing*
  • Fear
  • Freedom
  • Global Health
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Humans
  • Individuality
  • Interpersonal Relations*
  • Mass Media
  • Morals
  • Nurse's Role* / psychology
  • Politics
  • Principle-Based Ethics
  • Self-Assessment
  • Social Responsibility*
  • Social Values