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AJOB Primary Research.

Contributions of Psychological Science to Empirical Bioethics

Multiple disciplines can be brought to bear on the investigation of ethical issues in medicine (Sulmasy and Sugarman 2010). One way in which a multidisciplinary approach can be useful is through the application of theories and concepts outside one’s own field of study to ethical questions. For example, theories of cognitive and psychosocial development drawn from psychology have been used to understand when and how children and adolescents become capable of making their own health care decisions (Steinberg and Cauffman 1996; Weithorn and Campbell 1982). A second way is through the use of different methods, some of which are discipline specific or cut across multiple disciplines, to understand different aspects of an ethical question. An example is the use of discourse analysis, from the field of linguistics, to explore the way in which characteristics of consent discussions or consent documents influence participants’ understanding (Ilic et al. Forthcoming; Ness, Kiesling, and Lidz 2009). A multidisciplinary approach to ethical problem solving, both clinically and in the research arena, is important because it ensures that the problem is examined from several different points of view and yields solutions that are relevant and coherent to a broad audience (Miller et al. 2009; Streiner and Norman 1995; Sulmasy and Sugarman2010). […]


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Volume 4, Issue 3
July 2013