Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy

, Volume 18, Issue 1, pp 51–62

Theoretical frameworks used to discuss ethical issues in private physiotherapy practice and proposal of a new ethical tool

Scientific Contribution

DOI: 10.1007/s11019-014-9576-7

Cite this article as:
Drolet, MJ. & Hudon, A. Med Health Care and Philos (2015) 18: 51. doi:10.1007/s11019-014-9576-7


In the past, several researchers in the field of physiotherapy have asserted that physiotherapy clinicians rarely use ethical knowledge to solve ethical issues raised by their practice. Does this assertion still hold true? Do the theoretical frameworks used by researchers and clinicians allow them to analyze thoroughly the ethical issues they encounter in their everyday practice? In our quest for answers, we conducted a literature review and analyzed the ethical theoretical frameworks used by physiotherapy researchers and clinicians to discuss the ethical issues raised by private physiotherapy practice. Our final analysis corpus consisted of thirty-nine texts. Our main finding is that researchers and clinicians in physiotherapy rarely use ethical knowledge to analyze the ethical issues raised in their practice and that gaps exist in the theoretical frameworks currently used to analyze these issues. Consequently, we developed, for ethical analysis, a four-part prism which we have called the Quadripartite Ethical Tool (QET). This tool can be incorporated into existing theoretical frameworks to enable professionals to integrate ethical knowledge into their ethical analyses. The innovative particularity of the QET is that it encompasses three ethical theories (utilitarism, deontologism, and virtue ethics) and axiological ontology (professional values) and also draws on both deductive and inductive approaches. It is our hope that this new tool will help researchers and clinicians integrate ethical knowledge into their analysis of ethical issues and contribute to fostering ethical analyses that are grounded in relevant philosophical and axiological foundations.


Ethical analysis Ethical dilemmas Ethical frameworks Ethical issues Ethical theories Health professionals Physiotherapy Private physiotherapy practice 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Université du Québec à Trois-RivièresTrois-RivièresCanada
  2. 2.École de réadaptationUniversité de MontréalMontréalCanada
  3. 3.Centre for Interdisciplinary Research in Rehabilitation of Greater MontrealMontréalCanada

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