Concannon, Michael (2016) An exploration of how ethics informs physiotherapy and podiatry practice. Doctoral thesis, University of Huddersfield.

Moral complexities exist in every day health care practice creating conflicting responsibilities in providing care. Health care ethics (HCE) enable an applied practical linkage of theory and practice to create professional behaviour that focuses on service user benefit. This thesis explored how physiotherapists and podiatrists embodied health care ethics in their practice.
Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) as a hermeneutical approach was utilised in order to explore how HCE informs physiotherapy and podiatry practice. Whilst always involving interpretation, this method has the ability to describe the human experience as it is lived. Using a framework embedded in hermeneutic IPA facilitated an inquiry that promotes the participant’s own reflections of experiential practice (phenomenology) and then interpreting them (hermeneutical) in the relevant and wider context.
Purposively sampled individual interviews were carried out (n=21) in an attempt to interpret the participants’ lifeworld of embodied HCE. The preliminary findings were taken to one purposively sampled group interview for discussion which contributed to further interpretation.
Five themes emerged from the data. The themes indicated that there is a desire by participants to extol ethical practice, but acknowledged various limitations in the reality of achieving this.
The place of empathy has a key role in HCE for clinical reasoning and decision making which may prevent HCPs from passively following performance guidelines and checklists. If empathy and virtue ethics can be taught and utilised by HCPs then guidelines may be considered for individual implementation as an outcome, rather than a prerequisite, of ethical decision making.
Ethical decision making may be enhanced by reconsidering the education of character virtues including empathy. Empathy is a basic condition and source of morality. As a central component of phronesis, empathy may enable understanding of a service user’s needs and increase motivation for HCPs to act in a caring way, thus making the service user the bearer of an ethical interaction.

FINAL THESIS.pdf - Accepted Version
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