Welcome to the Nexus of Ethics, Psychology, Morality, Philosophy and Health Care

Welcome to the nexus of ethics, psychology, morality, technology, health care, and philosophy

Friday, November 1, 2019

What Clinical Ethics Can Learn From Decision Science

Michele C. Gornick and Brian J. Zikmund-Fisher
AMA J Ethics. 2019;21(10):E906-912.
doi: 10.1001/amajethics.2019.906.


Many components of decision science are relevant to clinical ethics practice. Decision science encourages thoughtful definition of options, clarification of information needs, and acknowledgement of the heterogeneity of people’s experiences and underlying values. Attention to decision-making processes reminds participants in consultations that how decisions are made and how information is provided can change a choice. Decision science also helps reveal affective forecasting errors (errors in predictions about how one will feel in a future situation) that happen when people consider possible future health states and suggests strategies for correcting these and other kinds of biases. Implementation of decision science innovations is not always feasible or appropriate in ethics consultations, but their uses increase the likelihood that an ethics consultation process will generate choices congruent with patients’ and families’ values.

Here is an excerpt:

Decision Science in Ethics Practice

Clinical ethicists can support informed, value-congruent decision making in ethically complex clinical situations by working with stakeholders to identify and address biases and the kinds of barriers just discussed. Doing so requires constantly comparing actual decision-making processes with ideal decision-making processes, responding to information deficits, and integrating stakeholder values. One key step involves regularly urging clinicians to clarify both available options and possible outcomes and encouraging patients to consider both their values and the possible meanings of different outcomes.