Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy

, Volume 18, Issue 1, pp 51–62 | Cite as

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

  • Marie-Josée DroletEmail author
  • Anne Hudon
Scientific Contribution


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 



We thank the reviewers for their valuable feedback on the initial version of this article. We would also like to thank Egan Valentine, professor in the Department of Modern Languages and Translation at the Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières, for translating the initial text into English. The first author’s research is supported by the Fonds d’animation à la recherche from the Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières. The second author is supported by a fellowship from the MENTOR program in collaboration with the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), the Quebec Research Rehabilitation Network (REPAR) and the Fonds de recherche du Québec—Santé (FRQ-S). Financial support for this research was also received from Dominion of Canada General Insurance administered by the Physiotherapy Foundation of Canada.


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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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