Exploring ethical challenges in Singapore physiotherapy practice: Implications for ethics education
Introduction: Workplace contexts, including political and sociocultural systems influence health professions’ perception and experience of ethical issues. Although established health ethics principles are relevant guiding values, they may be experienced and interpreted differently within different health contexts. How should ethics education account for this? This paper presents ethical dilemmas and concerns encountered by physiotherapists practicing in Singapore and discusses the implications for ethics education.
Methods: Qualitative methods informed by interpretivism and phenomenology were employed. In-depth interviews with 42 physiotherapists from different workplace settings in Singapore were conducted. Participants described everyday ethical challenges they encountered. Inductive content analysis was used to analyse the interview transcript data.
Results: Ethical issues occurred within and across three spheres of ethics: micro, meso and macro. Ethical issues at the micro sphere centered around physiotherapist-patient relationships, interactions with colleagues, and therapists’ feelings of moral distress. In the meso sphere, ethical challenges related to influences arising from the organizational resources or systems. In the macro sphere, ethical challenges developed or were influenced by sociocultural, religious, economic, and political factors.
Conclusion: The findings reflect current literature indicating that context can influence ethical situations, as experienced and perceived by physiotherapists in their unique settings. Such empirical data might inform the development of ethics curricula to ensure that universal ethical principles are situated within the realities of clinical practice. Locally relevant and realistic ethical case studies will better enable students to recognise and address these situations.
Journal/Conference/Book titleThe Asia Pacific Scholar (TAPS)