Evaluating care from a care ethical perspective: : A pilot study

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Care ethical theories provide an excellent opening for evaluation of healthcare practices since searching for (moments of) good care from a moral perspective is central to care ethics. However, a fruitful way to translate care ethical insights into measurable criteria and how to measure these criteria has as yet been unexplored: this study describes one of the first attempts.


To investigate whether the emotional touchpoint method is suitable for evaluating care from a care ethical perspective.

Research design:

An adapted version of the emotional touchpoint interview method was used. Touchpoints represent the key moments to the experience of receiving care, where the patient recalls being touched emotionally or cognitively.

Participants and research context:

Interviews were conducted at three different care settings: a hospital, mental healthcare institution and care facility for older people. A total of 31 participants (29 patients and 2 relatives) took part in the study.

Ethical considerations:

The research was found not to be subject to the (Dutch) Medical Research Involving Human Subjects Act.


A three-step care ethical evaluation model was developed and described using two touchpoints as examples. A focus group meeting showed that the method was considered of great value for partaking institutions in comparison with existing methods.

Reflection and discussion:

Considering existing methods to evaluate quality of care, the touchpoint method belongs to the category of instruments which evaluate the patient experience. The touchpoint method distinguishes itself because no pre-defined categories are used but the values of patients are followed, which is an essential issue from a care ethical perspective. The method portrays the insider perspective of patients and thereby contributes to humanizing care.


The touchpoint method is a valuable instrument for evaluating care; it generates evaluation data about the core care ethical principle of responsiveness.

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