Ethical dimensions of paediatric nursing: A rapid evidence assessment

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Background:Paediatric nurses often face complex situations requiring decisions that sometimes clash with their own values and beliefs, or with the needs of the children they care for and their families. Paediatric nurses often use new technology that changes the way they provide care, but also reduces their direct interaction with the child. This may generate ethical issues, which nurses should be able to address in the full respect of the child.Research question and objectives:The purpose of this review is to describe the main ethical dimensions of paediatric nursing. Our research question was, ‘What are the most common ethical dimensions and competences related to paediatric nursing?’Research design:A rapid evidence assessment.Method:According to the principles of the rapid evidence assessment, we searched the PubMed, SCOPUS and CINAHL databases for papers published between January 2001 and March 2015. These papers were then independently read by two researchers and analysed according to the inclusion criteria.Ethical considerations:Since this was a rapid evidence assessment, no approval from the ethics committee was required.Findings:Ten papers met our inclusion criteria. Ethical issues in paediatric nursing were grouped into three areas: (a) ethical issues in paediatric care, (b) social responsibility and (c) decision-making process.Conclusion:Few studies investigate the ethical dimensions and aspects of paediatric nursing, and they are mainly qualitative studies conducted in critical care settings based on nurses’ perceptions and experiences. Paediatric nurses require specific educational interventions to help them resolve ethical issues, contribute to the decision-making process and fulfil their role as advocates of a vulnerable population (i.e. sick children and their families). Further research is needed to investigate how paediatric nurses can improve the involvement of children and their families in decision-making processes related to their care plan.

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