Ethics rounds: An appreciated form of ethics support

Nurs Ethics. 2016 Mar;23(2):203-13. doi: 10.1177/0969733014560930. Epub 2014 Dec 18.


Background: Ethics rounds are one way to support healthcare personnel in handling ethically difficult situations. A previous study in the present project showed that ethics rounds did not result in significant changes in perceptions of how ethical issues were handled, that is, in the ethical climate. However, there was anecdotal evidence that the ethics rounds were viewed as a positive experience and that they stimulated ethical reflection.

Aim: The aim of this study was to gain a deeper understanding of how the ethics rounds were experienced and why the intervention in the form of ethics rounds did not succeed in improving the ethical climate for the staff.

Research design: An exploratory and descriptive design with a qualitative approach was adopted, using individual interviews.

Participants and research context: A total of 11 healthcare personnel, working in two different psychiatry outpatient clinics and with experience of participating in ethics rounds, were interviewed.

Ethical considerations: The study was based on informed consent and was approved by one of the Swedish Regional Ethical Review Boards.

Findings: The participants were generally positive about the ethics rounds. They had experienced changes by participating in the ethics rounds in the form of being able to see things from different perspectives as well as by gaining insight into ethical issues. However, these changes had not affected daily work.

Discussion: A crucial question is whether or not increased reflection ability among the participants is a good enough outcome of ethics rounds and whether this result could have been measured in patient-related outcomes. Ethics rounds might foster cooperation among the staff and this, in turn, could influence patient care.

Conclusion: By listening to others during ethics rounds, a person can learn to see things from a new angle. Participation in ethics rounds can also lead to better insight concerning ethical issues.

Keywords: Ethics; healthcare professional; interviews.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Ambulatory Care Facilities
  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Ethics Consultation*
  • Ethics, Medical*
  • Female
  • Health Personnel / psychology*
  • Health Personnel / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / therapy
  • Mental Health Services
  • Middle Aged
  • Qualitative Research
  • Social Support*
  • Sweden