Objective: To describe the ethics issues that pediatric residents encounter during routine care in an outpatient teaching clinic.
Design: Qualitative study including in-depth interviews with pediatric residents and direct observation of interactions between preceptors and residents in a pediatric teaching clinic.
Setting: The Johns Hopkins Harriet Lane Pediatric Primary Care Clinic, March 20 through April 11, 2006.
Participants: A convenience sample including all pediatric faculty preceptors supervising at the clinic during the 19 half-day sessions that occurred during the observation period (N = 15) and the pediatric residents seeing patients during these clinic sessions (N = 50). Main Outcome Measure Field notes of preceptor-resident discussions about patient care were made and transcribed for qualitative analysis.
Results: Qualitative analysis of the ethics content of cases presented by residents in this pediatric teaching clinic identified 5 themes for categorizing ethics challenges: (1) promoting the child's best interests in complex and resource-poor home and social settings; (2) managing the therapeutic alliance with parents and caregivers; (3) protecting patient privacy and confidentiality; (4) balancing the dual roles of learner and health care provider; and (5) using professional authority appropriately.
Conclusions: Qualitative analysis of the ethics content of directly observed preceptor-resident case discussions yielded a set of themes describing the ethics challenges facing pediatric residents. The themes are somewhat different from the lists of residents' ethics experiences developed using recall or survey methods and may be very different from the ideas usually included in hospital-based ethics discussions. This may have implications for improving ethics education during residency training.