Journal of Religion and Health

, Volume 57, Issue 4, pp 1440–1450 | Cite as

Extending Awareness of Catholic Healthcare Ethics Among Junior Clinicians: A Qualitative Study

  • Clare O’Callaghan
  • Julia Trimboli
  • Xavier Symons
  • Margaret Staples
  • Emma Patterson
  • Natasha Michael
Original Paper


As Catholic healthcare organizations form a substantive part of healthcare delivery in the USA and Australia, ethical standards for Catholic health care were developed to guide practice. This study examined junior staff’s understanding of Catholic ethics. Using a qualitative descriptive design, we recruited 22 medical and nursing staff to interviews/focus groups. Though Catholic ethics seldom informed ethical approaches, the principles were acknowledged as being useful to support development of confident and respectful care approaches. Findings provide early insights into challenges faced in considering implementation of ethical codes across both secular and religious healthcare organizations, suggesting that a more creative and pastoral approach to dialoguing and implementing Catholic ethics is required.


Religious ethics Clinical ethics Decision making Human dignity Education 



The authors thank Reverend Kevin McGovern, Cath Garner and Anne Spence for their support in developing this research project and helpful advice.


This study was funded by the Mary Philippa Brazill Foundation.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki Declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Clare O’Callaghan
    • 1
  • Julia Trimboli
    • 2
  • Xavier Symons
    • 3
  • Margaret Staples
    • 4
  • Emma Patterson
    • 4
  • Natasha Michael
    • 1
    • 5
  1. 1.Palliative and Supportive Care Research DepartmentCabrini InstituteMalvernAustralia
  2. 2.Mercy HealthRichmondAustralia
  3. 3.Institute of Ethics and SocietyUniversity of Notre DameSydneyAustralia
  4. 4.Cabrini InstituteMalvernAustralia
  5. 5.School of MedicineUniversity of Notre DameSydneyAustralia

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