Measuring Instrument for Ethical Sensitivity in the Therapeutic Sciences

Alida Naudé and Juan Bornman, The Journal of Clinical Ethics 28, no. 4 (Winter 2017): 290-302.

There are currently no instruments available to measure ethical sensitivity in the therapeutic sciences. This study therefore aimed to develop and implement a measure of ethical sensitivity that would be applicable to four therapeutic professions, namely audiology, occupational therapy, physiotherapy, and speech-language pathology. The study followed a two-phase, sequential exploratory mixed-methods design. Phase One, the qualitative development phase, employed six stages and focused on developing an instrument based on a systematic review: an analysis of professional ethical codes, focus group discussions, in-depth interviews, a review of public complaints websites, and an expert panel review. The development phase culminated in the Measuring Instrument for Ethical Sensitivity in the Therapeutic Sciences (MIEST), a pen-and-paper measure for studying ethical sensitivity in the therapeutic sciences.

Phase Two, the quantitative stage, focused on implementing the MIEST in two different stages. A total of 100 participants completed the instrument. MIEST scores were found to be comparable for all four professions, which confirmed the multidisciplinary usability of the instrument. Participants tended to base decisions on the ethical principle of beneficence. The MIEST is effective to assess and describe the ethical sensitivity of professionals in the four specified therapeutic sciences. The constructed vignettes also make the MIEST appropriate for use in problem-based learning programs.


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