The teaching of health care ethics to students of nursing in the UK: a pilot study

Shaun Parsons, Phil Barker, Alan Armstrong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Senior lecturers/lecturers in mental health nursing (11 in round one, nine in round two, and eight in the final round) participated in a three-round Delphi study into the teaching of health care ethics (HCE) to students of nursing. The participants were drawn from six (round one) and four (round three) UK universities. Information was gathered on the organization, methods used and content of HCE modules. Questionnaire responses were transcribed and the content analysed for patterns of interest and areas of convergence or divergence. Findings include: the majority (72.8%) of the sample believed that insufficient time was allocated to the teaching of HCE; case studies were considered a popular, although problematic, teaching method; the ‘four principles’ approach was less than dominant in the teaching of HCE; and virtue ethics was taught by only 36.4% of the participants. The Delphi technique proved adequate and worth while for the purposes of this study. Further empirical research could aim to replicate or contradict these findings, using a larger sample and recruiting more university departments. Reflection is required on several issues, including the depth and breadth to which ethics theory and, more controversially, meta-ethics, are taught to nursing students.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)45-56
Number of pages12
JournalNursing Ethics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2001


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