ARTICLES : How should a nurse approach truth-telling? A virtue ethics perspective

Truth-telling is a key issue within the nurse-patient relationship. Nurses make decisions on a daily basis regarding what information to tell patients. This paper analyses truth-telling within an end of life scenario. Virtue ethics provides a useful philosophical approach for exploring decisions on information disclosure in more detail. Virtue ethics allows appropriate examination of the moral character of the nurse involved, their intention, ability to use wisdom and judgement when making decisions and the virtue of truth-telling. It is appropriate to discuss nursing as a ‘practice’ in relation to virtue ethics. This is achieved through consideration of the implications of arguments made by Alasdair MacIntyre who believes that qualities such as honesty, courage and justice are virtues because they enable us to achieve the internal goods of practices.

Hodkinson, K. (2008). “How should a nurse approach truth-telling? A virtue ethics perspective.” Nurs Philos 9(4): 248-256.

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