Conscientious object in nursing: Regulations and practice in two European countries

Dobrowolska, Beata and Mcgonagle, Ian and Pilewska-Kozak, Anna and Kane, Ros (2019) Conscientious object in nursing: Regulations and practice in two European countries. Nursing Ethics . pp. 1-16. ISSN 0969-7330

Full content URL: http://doi.org/10.1177/0969733019845136

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Item Type:Article
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Abstract

Background: The concept of conscientious objection is well described; however, because of its nature, little is known about real experiences of nursing professionals who apply objections in their practice. Extended roles in nursing indicate that clinical and value-based dilemmas are becoming increasingly common. In addition, the migration trends of the nursing workforce have increased the need for the mutual understanding of culturally based assumptions on aspects of health care delivery.

Aim: To present (a) the arguments for and against conscientious objection in nursing practice, (b) a description of current regulations and practice regarding conscientious objection in nursing in Poland and the United Kingdom, and (c) to offer a balanced view regarding the application of conscientious objection in clinical nursing practice.

Design: Discussion paper.

Ethical considerations: Ethical guidelines has been followed at each stage of this study.

Findings: Strong arguments exist both for and against conscientious objection in nursing which are underpinned by empirical research from across Europe. Arguments against conscientious objection relate less to it as a concept, but rather in regard to organisational aspects of its application and different mechanisms which could be introduced in order to reach the balance between professional and patient’s rights.

Discussion and conclusion: Debate regarding conscientious objection is vivid, and there is consensus that the right to objection among nurses is an important, acknowledged part of nursing practice. Regulation in the United Kingdom is limited to reproductive health, while in Poland, there are no specific procedures to which nurses can apply an objection. The same obligations of those who express conscientious objection apply in both countries, including the requirement to share information with a line manager, the patient, documentation of the objection and necessity to indicate the possibility of receiving care from other nurses. Using Poland and the United Kingdom as case study countries, this article offers a balanced view regarding
the application of conscientious objection in clinical nursing practice.

Keywords:Conscientious objection, nursing practice, England, Poland, Regulation
Subjects:B Subjects allied to Medicine > B700 Nursing
Divisions:College of Social Science > School of Health & Social Care
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ID Code:36404
Deposited On:12 Jul 2019 07:37

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