Talking ethics

We continue coverage of the 15th congress of the World Confederation for Physical Therapy, which took place in Vancouver, Canada, between 2 and 6 June, preceded by a general meeting of member organisations. The theme of the congress was Moving Physical Therapy Forward, and it attracted 4,000 delegates from around 80 countries. Structured around five core programmes, it featured a variety of symposia, workshops and debates on issues of relevance around the globe. Simon Crompton and Tracy Jager report for Frontline

Physiotherapists haven't made the case about why research is important to consumers, according to Anthony Delitto from the US.  Speaking in a panel discussion on research, ethics and consumer involvement, Professor Delitto (pictured below) said consumers should be involved from the start of research work, even in designing research questions. Other means of ensuring broad, meaningful involvement of patients in research, discussed by the panel, included consulting representative groups, such as disease- or condition-specific advocacy organisations. Panellist Annette Delaplace from Canada said researchers needed to consider factors such as travel time that may impact patients' abilities to participate. When it comes to treatment, panellist Lynne Geddes of Canada said: 'Clients demand and deserve ethical practice. Evidence-based practice should be permeated with ethics.' This provides physiotherapists with the opportunity to open dialogue as part of the informed consent process. Once dialogue occurs and trust is in place, then the decision to try something based on evidence, or an alternative treatment, can be decided, said Ms Delaplace. Patient privacy and the ethical use of information gathered through research and through clinical practice was another issue of concern to physiotherapists, discussed by the panel. This was especially the case with the electronic health records. Based on experience with implementing such a system in Canada, Ms Geddes suggested that access be limited and based on a circle of care model. She said: 'Give the patient the right to limit or veto access.'
Tracey Jager

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