Ancient Chinese medical ethics and the four principles of biomedical ethics.
The four principles approach to biomedical ethics (4PBE) has, since the 1970s, been increasingly developed as a universal bioethics method. Despite its wide acceptance and popularity, the 4PBE has received many challenges to its cross-cultural plausibility. This paper first specifies the principles and characteristics of ancient Chinese medical ethics (ACME), then makes a comparison between ACME and the 4PBE with a view to testing out the 4PBE's cross-cultural plausibility when applied to one particular but very extensive and prominent cultural context. The result shows that the concepts of respect for autonomy, non-maleficence, beneficence and justice are clearly identifiable in ACME. Yet, being influenced by certain socio-cultural factors, those applying the 4PBE in Chinese society may tend to adopt a "beneficence-oriented", rather than an "autonomy-oriented" approach, which, in general, is dissimilar to the practice of contemporary Western bioethics, where "autonomy often triumphs". (+info)
The ambiguity about death in Japan: an ethical implication for organ procurement.
In the latter half of the twentieth century, developed countries of the world have made tremendous strides in organ donation and transplantation. However, in this area of medicine, Japan has been slow to follow. Japanese ethics, deeply rooted in religion and tradition, have affected their outlook on life and death. Because the Japanese have only recently started to acknowledge the concept of brain death, transplantation of major organs has been hindered in that country. Currently, there is a dual definition of death in Japan, intended to satisfy both sides of the issue. This interesting paradox, which still stands to be fully resolved, illustrates the contentious conflict between medical ethics and medical progress in Japan. (+info)
Body weight and mortality among adults who never smoked.
In a 12-year prospective study, the authors examined the relation between body mass index (BMI) and mortality among the 20,346 middle-aged (25-54 years) and older (55-84 years) non-Hispanic white cohort members of the Adventist Health Study (California, 1976-1988) who had never smoked cigarettes and had no history of coronary heart disease, cancer, or stroke. In analyses that accounted for putative indicators (weight change relative to 17 years before baseline, death during early follow-up) of pre-existing illness, the authors found a direct positive relation between BMI and all-cause mortality among middle-aged men (minimum risk at BMI (kg/m2) 15-22.3, older men (minimum risk at BMI 13.5-22.3), middle-aged women (minimum risk at BMI 13.9-20.6), and older women who had undergone postmenopausal hormone replacement (minimum risk at BMI 13.4-20.6). Among older women who had not undergone postmenopausal hormone replacement, the authors found a J-shaped relation (minimum risk at BMI 20.7-27.4) in which BMI <20.7 was associated with a twofold increase in mortality risk (hazard ratio (HR) = 2.2, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.3, 3.5) that was primarily due to cardiovascular and respiratory disease. These findings not only identify adiposity as a risk factor among adults, but also raise the possibility that very lean older women can experience an increased mortality risk that may be due to their lower levels of adipose tissue-derived estrogen. (+info)
Bioethics of the refusal of blood by Jehovah's Witnesses: Part 3. A proposal for a don't-ask-don't-tell policy.
Of growing concern over Jehovah's Witnesses' (JWs) refusal of blood is the intrusion of the religious organisation into its members' personal decision making about medical care. The organisation currently may apply severe religious sanctions to JWs who opt for certain forms of blood-based treatment. While the doctrine may be maintained as the unchangeable "law of God", the autonomy of individual JW patients could still be protected by the organisation modifying its current policy so that it strictly adheres to the right of privacy regarding personal medical information. The author proposes that the controlling religious organisation adopt a "don't-ask-don't-tell" policy, which assures JWs that they would neither be asked nor compelled to reveal personal medical information, either to one another or to the church organisation. This would relieve patients of the fear of breach of medical confidentiality and ensure a truly autonomous decision on blood-based treatments without fear of organisational control or sanction. (+info)
Jehovah's Witnesses' refusal of blood: obedience to scripture and religious conscience.
Jehovah's Witnesses are students of the Bible. They refuse transfusions out of obedience to the scriptural directive to abstain and keep from blood. Dr Muramoto disagrees with the Witnesses' religious beliefs in this regard. Despite this basic disagreement over the meaning of Biblical texts, Muramoto flouts the religious basis for the Witnesses' position. His proposed policy change about accepting transfusions in private not only conflicts with the Witnesses' fundamental beliefs but it promotes hypocrisy. In addition, Muramoto's arguments about pressure to conform and coerced disclosure of private information misrepresent the beliefs and practices of Jehovah's Witnesses and ignore the element of individual conscience. In short, Muramoto resorts to distortion and uncorroborated assertions in his effort to portray a matter of religious faith as a matter of medical ethical debate. (+info)
Attitudes to organ donation among South Asians in an English high street.
In the UK, people of South Asian origin are at more than twice the risk of end-stage renal failure encountered in the Caucasian population but are under-represented among organ donors. Difficulties with matching mean that few donated kidneys are suitable for transplantation to South Asian recipients. A survey of attitudes in 100 South Asian adults was conducted in the main street of Southall, Middlesex. 90 of those questioned were aware of organ transplantation and 69 had heard about donor cards. However, the 16% who carried a donor card was lower than the 28% reported in the general population. The main reason for the low organ donation rate by South Asians seemed to be lack of knowledge, and this could be remedied by more targeting of information in the Asian media. (+info)
Spiritual faith and genetic testing decisions among high-risk breast cancer probands.
Despite widespread access to genetic testing for the BRCA1 and BRCA2 breast cancer susceptibility genes, little is known about rates or predictors of test use among individuals from newly ascertained high-risk families who have self-referred for genetic counseling/testing. The objective of this study was to examine rates of test use within this population. In addition, we sought to determine whether spiritual faith and psychological factors influenced testing decisions. Participants were 290 women with familial breast cancer. All were offered genetic counseling and testing for alterations in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes. Baseline levels of spiritual faith, cancer-specific distress, perceived risk, and demographic factors were examined to identify independent predictors of whether participants received versus declined testing. The final logistic model revealed statistically significant main effects for spiritual faith [odds ratio (OR), 0.2; 95% confidence intervals (CIs), 0.1 and 0.5] and perceived ovarian cancer risk (OR, 2.4; 95% CIs, 1.3 and 4.7) and a statistically significant spiritual faith by perceived risk interaction effect. Among women who perceived themselves to be at low risk of developing breast cancer again, those with higher levels of spiritual faith were significantly less likely to be tested, compared with those with lower levels of faith (OR, 0.2; 95% CIs, 0.1 and 0.5). However, among women with high levels of perceived risk, rates of test use were high, regardless of levels of spiritual faith (OR, 1.2; 95% CIs, 0.4 and 3.0). These results highlight the role that spirituality may play in the decision-making process about genetic testing. (+info)
Talismans and amulets in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit: legendary powers in contemporary medicine.
BACKGROUND: For centuries talismans and amulets have been used in many cultures for their legendary healing powers. METHODS: We asked the parents of every child (Jews and Arabs) admitted to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit over a 2 month period to complete a questionnaire, which included demographic data on the patient and the family, the use of talismans or other folk medicine practices, and the perception of the effects of these practices on the patient's well-being. A different questionnaire was completed by the ICU staff members on their attitude toward the use of amulets. RESULTS: Thirty percent of the families used amulets and talismans in the ICU, irrespective of the socioeconomic status of the family or the severity of the patient's illness. Amulets and talismans were used significantly more by religious Jews, by families with a higher parental educational level, and where the hospitalized child was very young. The estimated frequency of amulet use by the children's families, as perceived by the staff, was significantly higher than actual use reported by the parents. In Jewish families the actual use of amulets was found to be 30% compared to the 60% rate estimated by the medical staff; while in Moslem families the actual use was zero compared to the staff's estimation of about 36%. Of the 19 staff members, 14 reported that the use of amulets seemed to reduce the parents' anxiety, while 2 claimed that amulet use sometimes interfered with the staff's ability to carry out medical treatment. CONCLUSIONS: The use of talismans in a technologically advanced western society is more frequent than may have been thought. Medical and paramedical personnel dealing with very ill patients should be aware of the emotional and psychological implications of such beliefs and practices on patients and their families. (+info)