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The relevance of virtue ethics to patients with chronic illness

Objective

OBJECTIVES
1. To formulate an agreed operational description of the main models of virtue ethics to be used as a research tool by the partners in order to harmonise procedures.
2. To describe and analyse the experiences of patients in four selected diagnostic groups with specific attention to their capacity to cope with long-term disability and to the moral choices which they face.
3. To identify a model of virtue ethics relevant to chronic illness by a) developing a draft model; b) relating this model to the empirical findings; c) revising the model in light of the findings and in further consultation with affected groups.
4. To apply the identified moral challenges of chronic illness to the current debate about quality of life and the allocation of resources, particularly as these are perceived by people with chronic illness.
5. To prepare teaching materials on this topic area for use in continuing professional education and in public education.

Biomedical Ethics has tended to concentrate on the dilemmas facing doctors and patients in the crises associated with acute illness. However, a large proportion of the burden of illness on individuals and on health budgets in the European Community comes from chronic illnesses for which there is no immediate cure. This project will develop a model for understanding the moral capacities of individuals and groups to cope with, or find positive outcomes from, the challenges of chronic illness. A model of virtue ethics relevant to chronic illness will be developed through consultation with affected groups and study of the diverse accounts of virtue in European culture. The practical relevance of this model will be tested through empirical research with patients with the following conditions: Endometriosis, Osteoarthritis, Affective (Mood) Disorders, End Stage Renal Disease. A final phase of the project, will broaden the scope of the research to explore the relevance of Virtue Ethics to the participation of affected groups of patients in rationing decisions, and will produce materials for both professional and public education.

The project will be multidisciplinary, drawing together philosophical, theological, medical and nursing expertise from Denmark, Italy, Netherlands and the United Kingdom. It will also fully involve patients' support groups in the discussion and design of the research.

The following objectives will be met:
1.Formulation of an agreed operational description of the main models of virtue ethics to be used as a research tool by the partners in order to harmonise procedures;
2.Description and analysis the experiences of patients in the four selected diagnostic groups with specific attention to their capacity to cope with long-term disability and to the moral choices which they face;
3.Identification of a model of virtue ethics relevant to chronic illness by: a) developing a draft model; b) relating this model to the empirical findings; c) revising the model in light of the findings and in further consultation with affected groups;
4.Application of the identified moral challenges of chronic illness to the current debate about quality of life and the allocation of resources, particularly as these are perceived by people with chronic illness;
5.Preparation of teaching materials on this topic area for use in continuing professional education and in public education.

This project will complement current EC research on chronic illness and on measures of the quality of life and will provide an enriched understanding of autonomy, dignity and other fundamental values underlying health care delivery. Careful management of the project will ensure an integration of the theoretical and empirical elements and the production of documents of high relevance to both provider and consumer groups.

Coordinator

University of Bristol
Address
Sothwell Street
BS2 8EG Bristol
United Kingdom

Participants (4)

Kobenhavns Universitet
Denmark
Address
3,Blegdamsvej
2000 Kobenhavn N
PSYCHOANALYTIC INSTITUTE FOR SOCIAL RESEARCH
Italy
Address
Passeggiata Di Repetta 11
00186 Roma
STICHTING KATHOLIEKE UNIVERSITEIT
Netherlands
Address
Geert Rooteplein, 21
6500 HB Nijmegen
University of Wales Cardiff
United Kingdom
Address

CF1 3XB Cardiff