Background: Ethical problems routinely arise in the healthcare profession and more so in hospitals providing cancer diagnosis and care. Literature study indicates that almost all studies addressing ethical issues in cancer have been qualitative and reported from the developed countries, while there has been no study reported from developing countries. For the first time, we performed a questionnaire study to quantify the ethical issues plaguing the healthcare fraternity in the diagnosis and care of people with cancer.
Method: This prospective study was conducted under the aegis of UNESCO Bioethics Education and Research Unit of the UNESCO Chair in Bioethics, Haifa at Mangalore Institute of Oncology Mangalore, India. The investigators approached the healthcare professionals involved in diagnosis, treating, and caring for patients with cancer and ascertained various ethical issues they faced. Data were tabulated and subjected to frequency and percentage.
Result: The results indicated that discussing end-of-life issues with the patient and breaking bad news were the two most difficult ones while discussing end of life issues with family caregivers was the least.
Conclusion: According to this study, oncology treatment involves a series of dilemmatic issues and breaking bad news. Based on the detailed studies and emphasis on handling these issues, it is possible to develop a teaching module for training the health care professionals and workers for managing the ethical issues effectively.