Everyday ethics refers to those issues which have a sometimes unrecognized moral dimension and that arise regularly within healthcare and research. These issues are often contrasted to dramatic ethics issues (i.e. issues that have seemingly higher stakes such as those arising in acute care situations or with invasive or life-threatening interventions). Claims have been made that scholarly bioethics tends to focus on dramatic ethics to the detriment of everyday ethics discussions. However, empirical evidence showing this has been lacking. Our own research investigating bioethics discussions in the Parkinson’s disease literature suggested this trend. Consequently, we decided to characterize the context and content of the Parkinson’s disease bioethics literature to empirically test the hypothesis that everyday ethics is under discussed. We conducted a broad literature search using the keywords ‘‘Parkinson’s disease’’ AND (‘‘ethics’’ OR ‘‘bioethics’’) and classified results inductively based on the context in which the bioethics discussion occurred. In line with our hypothesis and initial observations, we found that there is indeed a greater focus on dramatic ethics where topics such as deep brain stimulation and neuronal cell transplantations, dominated bioethics discussions. Given the potential utility of everyday ethics in improving healthcare and research, this mismatch in focus ought to be addressed. There is a clear need for further understanding and discussion of everyday ethical issues in scholarly bioethics.


Zizzo N, Bell E, Racine E. What are the focal points in bioethics literature? Examining the discussions about everyday ethics in Parkinson’s disease. Clinical Ethics, 2016; 12(1), 19-23


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