Thursday, July 12, 2007
This presentation is part of : Ethical Issues
Consept of Equality in Research of Nursing Ethics
Mari Lahtinen, RN, MNSc, Department of nursing science and Health administration, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland, Finland
Learning Objective #1: The learner will be able to define the concept of equality in research of nursing ethics.
Learning Objective #2: The learner will be able to open up and redefine the concept of equality from perspective of feminist ethics.

The aim of the study was to open up, define and categorise the concept of equality as a value of nursing ethics research. The goal of the study was to acquire tools that would help to understand the background, meaning and possibilities of the concept of equality in nursing ethics research.

The research was positioned in conceptual basic study of nursing ethics, and it followed a philosophical approach, which consisted of three phases: problematisation, explication and argumentation. During problematisation, a systematic review of literature was conducted to define the concept of equality and its theoretical starting points in previous nursing ethics research. This study characterised the concept of equality in previous nursing ethics research as liberalistic-individualistic privilegisation. Liberalistic-individualistic privilegisation manifested itself as emphasising the individual, emphasising the community and as internal conflict of the concept in terms of practical nursing.

The theoretical frame of reference of the study, based on feminist moral philosophy, was defined during explication. It viewed equality as a changing and evolving ethical value, depicting interrelations between people, with different implications in different relationships. In this study in addition to liberalistic-individualistic privilegisation, equality in nursing ethics research calls for taking into account three dimensions defining equality, i.e. the concepts of difference, dependence and power. As a world order principle, difference meant diversity, in which it is significant and valuable in itself. Understanding differences lead to acknowledging the difference and the resulting dependence between individuals or groups. Through redefinition of difference and dependence, power obtained its new meanings, where focus was given to the asymmetry and lack of dominance connected with it.

The results of the study can be used to develop the range of concepts concerning equality in nursing ethics research and the ethical discussion on it, as well as to develop nursing ethics research and teaching.