Journal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice

Attitudes towards and experiences of ethical dilemmas in treatment decision‐making process among medical oncologists

Early View

Abstract Aim This study aimed to evaluate the attitudes towards and experiences of ethical dilemmas in the treatment decision‐making process among medical oncologists who are the members of the Turkish Society of Medical Oncology. Materials and methods A questionnaire was developed based on related literature. Between April 1 and May 1, 2016, questionnaires were electronically sent to 412 medical oncologists who were the members of the Turkish Society of Medical Oncology. Overall, 125 of 412 medical oncologists (30.33%) filled the questionnaire. Results Most medical oncologists encountered dilemmas, such as a lack of comprehension among the patients and family members regarding the information provided, a lack of clarity regarding the identity and role of individuals in the decision‐making process, and demands for futile treatment. The most common problem (70.4%) was the lack of available clinical ethics consultancy services to guide medical oncologists when facing an ethical dilemma. Legal concerns regarding withholding or withdrawing futile treatments were high. More than half of the medical oncologists (56.8%) reported the preservation of the quality of life as their primary professional duty. Conclusion Our results demonstrate that medical oncologists tend to adopt an approach that respects patient autonomy and that adheres to the principle of proportionality rather than a paternalistic approach when facing ethical dilemmas. Within this context, we suggest an increased use of a multidisciplinary team approach, ethics consultancy services, and training programmes as well as the publication of ethical guidelines tailored to the oncology field.

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