New centre for research in healthcare ethics

Published 2008-12-15 00:00. Updated 2013-11-26 10:24

[Press Release 2008-12-03] December 3 2008 marked the opening of the Stockholm Centre for Healthcare Ethics (CHE). The Centre is a collaboration between the Karolinska Institutet (KI), The Royal College of Technology (KTH) and Stockholm University. CHE will conduct cross-disciplinary research into prioritisation within healthcare, the limits of medicine and the individual patient's rights and responsibilities.

It is intended that the Centre should serve as a resource during the investigation and analysis of ethical questions for both researchers, healthcare professionals and decision-makers.

"Ethical questions are present at several levels within the healthcare sector. Our assessment affects everything from patient reception in the everyday clinical context to structural questions of how prevention, diagnosis and treatment can be applied, or how new technology should be tested," says Niels Lynöe, Professor of Medical Ethics at Karolinska Institutet.

At CHE competence is gathered from the three universities' ethical and philosophical units. KI has specialist knowledge within clinical ethics, KTH in the ethics of medical technology and Stockholm University's contribution lies within the field of basic moral philosophy. The Centre will combine a high level of scientific inquiry with a close connection to healthcare and the patient's everyday problems. Research will be carried out within three main areas:

Prioritisation within healthcare

In order for medical knowledge, technology and staff to contribute to the safety and greater good of the patient new methods need to be tested. Limited resources mean that one must prioritise, a fact which becomes especially apparent when new treatments become available. At the Centre today's approach to prioritisation within healthcare will be examined and compared with alternative principles. The intention is to create a knowledge-base for researchers, teachers and decision-makers with the goal of easing the process of concrete decision-making, and enriching public debate around these issues.

Limits of medicine

With the technical development of medicine and medical technology new methods of affecting the human body, even in relation to other goals than fighting disease. Accordingly we must ask questions, such as, In what ways should we be allowed to modify humanity? Ought we to develop the human physique so that we can achieve more than humans have previously been able to: jump higher, run faster, sleep less, endure more? Ought we to strive after longer life - beyond what is normally considered humanly possible? Should we make humanity more intelligent?

Patient's rights

At the Stockholm Centre for Healthcare Ethics the patient's perspective will be central. Research will be carried out around patient's rights and how these rights can be protected. Contact with patient organisations, patient boards and with individual patients will be important aspects of the work of the Centre.

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