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The sensible health care professional: a care ethical perspective on the role of caregivers in emotionally turbulent practices

Abstract

This article discusses the challenging context that health care professionals are confronted with, and the impact of this context on their emotional experiences. Care ethics considers emotions as a valuable source of knowledge for good care. Thinking with care ethical theory and looking through a care ethical lens at a practical case example, the authors discern reflective questions that (1) shed light on a care ethical approach toward the role of emotions in care practices, and (2) may be used by practitioners and facilitators for care ethical reflection on similar cases, in the particular and concrete context where issues around emotional experiences arise. The authors emphasize the importance of allowing emotions to exist, to acknowledge them and to not repress them, so that they can serve as a vehicle for ethical behavior in care practices. They stress the difference between acknowledging emotions and expressing them limitlessly. Formational practices and transformational research practices are being proposed to create moral space in care institutions and to support health care professionals to approach the emotionally turbulent practices they encounter in a way that contributes to good care for all those involved.

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Correspondence to Vivianne Baur.

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Baur, V., van Nistelrooij, I. & Vanlaere, L. The sensible health care professional: a care ethical perspective on the role of caregivers in emotionally turbulent practices. Med Health Care and Philos 20, 483–493 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11019-017-9770-5

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Keywords

  • Emotions
  • Caregivers
  • Morality
  • Sensibility
  • Care ethics