Introduction Ethics is integral to palliative care, making staff knowledge of healthcare ethics critical. A survey was distributed to palliative care teams at the Prince and Princess of Wales Hospice and Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow to assess staff self-reported knowledge of ethics and ethical issues encountered.
To assess staff knowledge of ethics and confidence in applying knowledge;
To determine the incidence of ethical issues in palliative care;
To gain insight into the types of ethical issues staff encounter in their work and how they currently deal with these;
To assess the desire for further staff training in ethics.
Methods The survey was distributed to healthcare assistants, nurses, doctors, allied healthcare professionals and family support services at a hospice and hospital. Data was analysed using Microsoft Excel.
35 out of 75 surveys were completed; 51% nurses, 23% healthcare assistants, 17% doctors, 3% allied healthcare professionals, and 6% family support services;
69% of participants had training in healthcare ethics;
Participants demonstrated a high knowledge of the four main principles of ethics;
There was ambiguity as to what constitutes an ethical issue;
86% had encountered at least one ethical issue at work;
Most commonly reported issue was a patient who stopped eating, cited by 44% of hospice participants;
50% of hospital staff raised concerns about medical interventions at end of life;
Majority of respondents felt able to deal with these ethical issues;
Participants often turned to colleagues for support, benefiting from discussing ethical issues;
77% desired ethical training; a course was the most popular method.
Staff knowledge of ethics appears solid;
Self-reported staff confidence measures on applying ethical knowledge was high;
There is a high incidence of ethical issues in palliative care;
Common ethical issues reported were patients stopping eating and issues surrounding medical interventions;
Majority of staff were desirous of additional ethical training.
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