Faculty and staff affiliated with the Bioethics Research Center (BRC) are available to facilitate narrative ethics discussion groups. In these groups, participants discuss stories published in the journal Narrative Inquiry in Bioethics (NIB). NIB publishes personal stories from patients, family members, and healthcare professionals on socially important topics in healthcare. For purposes of discussion, BRC faculty have organized these narratives around shared themes such as stigma and bias in healthcare, moral distress among healthcare workers, and communicating what matters most to patients.

Narrative ethics discussion groups typically meet for approximately one hour. BRC faculty can facilitate discussion groups of any size.

Learning Objectives:

  • Gain insight regarding stakeholders’ needs and preferences and explore how professional practice might respond to these
  • Understand the multiple, and at times conflicting, perspectives of all parties involved in healthcare encounters and decisions
  • Recognize how narratives may represent a call for recognition (e.g., of suffering or distress), offer guidance to others, or appeal for change

Current Topics Offered:

Moral Distress

Moral distress occurs when a healthcare professional is constrained from taking what they believe to be an ethically correct course of action. These constraints are often hierarchical or institutional leaving a healthcare professional feeling powerless to take a particular action. This session explores stories of moral distress from various healthcare professionals.

Stigma and Bias

Stigma and bias in healthcare can have a negative impact on patients and healthcare professionals. Biases are often implicit but can still impact patient care, adherence, and outcomes. This session uses patient stories to develop an understanding of how stigma and bias can affect patients and the care they receive, and is essential to identifying and overcoming these issues.

Communicating What Matters Most To Patients

Ideally communication is a two way dialogue between patient and physician. However, physicians may not always know what is most important to communicate to a patient or patients may themselves be resistant to talking about certain issues. This session uses patient stories to illustrate examples of communicating what matters most to patients. The excerpts include examples of patients not having the most critical information or being unable to communicate their concerns, the power of an apology, and addressing difficult topics such as end of life or cancer and fertility.

The Subtle Forms of Communication Between Patient and Physician

Communication between physician and patient is an essential aspect to ensuring a positive relationship. Effective communication can improve patient care, adherence, and outcomes. When communication fails or breaks down, patients and physicians may be negatively affected. At the same time, communication is complex and multifaceted involving more than a mere exchange of information. Communication includes subtle signs, body language, and the language we use. This session will explore stories directly from patients that describe the impact of effective and failed communication on patient experiences, including the power or language and words.

BRC anticipates adding new topics on an ongoing basis.

These events are made possible through the support of the The Dr. Daniel Bisno Ethics in Medicine Fund.

To request a narrative discussion group session, please complete the following request form: