Prevalence and characteristics of moral case deliberation in Dutch health care

Med Health Care Philos. 2014 Aug;17(3):365-75. doi: 10.1007/s11019-013-9537-6.


The attention for Moral case deliberation (MCD) has increased over the past years. Previous research on MCD is often written from the perspective of MCD experts or MCD participants and we lack a more distant view to the role of MCD in Dutch health care institutions in general. The purpose of this paper is to provide an overview of the state of the art concerning MCD in the Netherlands. As part of a larger national study on clinical ethics support in the Netherlands, we will focus on the prevalence and characteristics of MCD in Dutch health. A mixed methods design was used in which we combined two survey questionnaires (sent to all health care institutions), two focus groups and 17 individual interviews with top managers or ethics support staff. The findings demonstrate that the prevalence of MCD is relatively high in Dutch health care (44 % has MCD), especially in mental health care (in which MCD is mentioned as present in the organization by 62 % of the respondents). Institutions with MCD differ from institutions without MCD concerning size, kind of problems and importance of ideological background. Characteristic of MCD is that it often exists for 3 years or more, has a high participation of health professionals and middle managers and is both organized scheduled as unscheduled. As well integration in existing policy as key persons emerge as important issues in relation to the positioning of MCD. We conclude that MCD is a part of an integrated ethics policy and serves as a (bottom up) catalyst for such an integrated ethics policy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Delivery of Health Care / ethics*
  • Ethics Committees, Clinical* / organization & administration
  • Ethics Committees, Clinical* / statistics & numerical data
  • Focus Groups
  • Humans
  • Morals*
  • Netherlands
  • Prevalence
  • Surveys and Questionnaires