Physician-researchers are bound by professional obligations stemming from both the role of the physician and the role of the researcher. Currently, the dominant models for understanding the relationship between physician-researchers' clinical duties and research duties fit into three categories: the similarity position, the difference position and the middle ground. The law may be said to offer a fourth "model" that is independent from these three categories.These models frame the expectations placed upon physician-researchers by colleagues, regulators, patients and research participants. This paper examines the extent to which the data from semi-structured interviews with 30 physician-researchers at three major pediatric hospitals in Canada reflect these traditional models. It seeks to determine the extent to which existing models align with the described lived experience of the pediatric physician-researchers interviewed.Ultimately, we find that although some physician-researchers make references to something like the weak version of the similarity position, the pediatric-researchers interviewed in this study did not describe their dual roles in a way that tightly mirrors any of the existing theoretical frameworks. We thus conclude that either physician-researchers are in need of better training regarding the nature of the accountability relationships that flow from their dual roles or that models setting out these roles and relationships must be altered to better reflect what we can reasonably expect of physician-researchers in a real-world environment.
There are several important conceptual issues and questions about the practice of healthcare ethics that can, and should, inform the development of any practice standards. This paper provides a relatively short overview of seven of these issues, with the invitation for further critical reflection and examination of their relevance to and implications for practice standards. The seven issues described include: diversity (from the perspective of training and experience); moral expertise and authority/influence; being an insider or outsider; flexibility and adaptability (for local contexts of practice); the relative weighting of procedural and normative aspects of ethics practice; making mistakes or errors; and conflicts of interest in practice.
The cost of new cancer therapies and drugs has risen sharply and somewhat alarmingly in the last five years. In those developed countries where healthcare systems are (primarily) publicly funded, this has caused legitimate concern among government administrators and politicians who must make decisions regarding funding. In the Canadian context, provincial Departments of Health are mandated to provide comprehensive healthcare services to all citizens out of a "fixed pot" of financial resources, which is determined annually as part of the provincial government's overall budget process. In recent years there has been increasing recognition among healthcare decision makers that the approval of funding for multiple new expensive cancer treatments is creating an "opportunity cost" for meeting the other legitimate healthcare needs of provincial citizens. In response to this reality, the Department of Health of the Canadian province of Nova Scotia created a Cancer Systemic Therapy Policy Committee (CSTPC) in 2005. The mandate of this committee is to make recommendations to the Nova Scotia Deputy Minister of Health regarding the public funding of new cancer therapies. In collaboration with consultants from the Dalhousie University Department of Bioethics, the committee developed a comprehensive and inclusive decision-making framework to promote and facilitate decision making that is explicitly informed by evidence, economics, and ethics--the "3Es"--in reaching and making recommendations.