, Volume 25, Issue 1, pp 47-60

From Reactive to Proactive: Developing a Valid Clinical Ethics Needs Assessment Survey to Support Ethics Program Strategic Planning (Part 1 of 2)

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Abstract

As ethics committees and programs become integrated into the “usual business” of healthcare organizations, they are likely to face the predicament of responding to greater demands for service and higher expectations, without an influx of additional resources. This situation demands that ethics committees and programs allocate their scarce resources (including their time, skills and funds) strategically, rather than lurching from one ad hoc request to another; finding ways to maximize the effectiveness, efficiency, impact and quality of ethics services is essential in today’s competitive environment. How can Hospital Ethics Committees (HECs) begin the process of strategic priority-setting to ensure they are delivering services where and how they are most needed? This paper describes the creation of the Clinical Ethics Needs Assessment Survey (CENAS) as a tool to understand interprofessional staff perceptions of the organization’s ethical climate, challenging ethical issues and educational priorities. The CENAS was designed to support informed resource allocation and advocacy by HECs. By sharing our process of developing and validating this ethics needs assessment survey we hope to enable strategic priority-setting in other resource-strapped ethics programs, and to empower HECs to shift their focus to more proactive, quality-focused initiatives.