Ethical Decision Making

  • European Master in Health Economics and Management
Course unit code
  • IHSM-EU-HEM-M3.3
Level of course unit
  • Master
Semester when the course unit is delivered
  • 3
Number of ECTS credits allocated
  • 5.0
Name of lecturer(s)
  • FH-Prof. Dr. Kerschbaumer Lukas
  • Prof. Dr. habil. Gebrewold Belachew
  • M.B., B.CH. Sabae Ayman, MA
  • Dr. Zoller Claudia
  • Ass. FH-Prof. Mag. Wieser Desiree, PhD
Learning outcomes of the course unit
  • At the end of the course, students will have a differentiated under-standing of theoretical and practical approaches to ethics. They should be able to …
    • identify ethical problems within present-day clinical practice, sci-entific medicine, and health policy;
    • make ethical decisions by applying ethical principles (e.g. of the UNESCO Universal Declaration on Bioethics and Human Rights);
    • recognize conflicts between the health care professional’s obliga-tions to patients and to society and identify the reasons for the conflicts;
    • reflect critically on ethical and human rights issues in health and social policy;
    • face the conflicts between ethical and business-oriented ap-proaches to health care delivery;
    • analyze current and future issues from a bioethical perspective;
    • understand the historical evolution of the human rights concept, and why it is so central in today's academic discourse, policy making and ethics;
    • explain how human rights and equality, justice and equity are key in allocating such as scarce health care resources;
    • explain how and to what extent human rights are relative or uni-versal and can determine our decision-making;
    • understand and explain why and how solidarity and social re-sponsibility constitute the foundation of any fair society;
Mode of delivery
  • -
Prerequisites and co-requisites
  • none
Course contents
  • The role of intuition in ethical decision-making
    Introduction and application of inductive, case-based methods in bioethics
    Differentiation between ethical and non-ethical decision-making
    Approaches to human dignity and human rights
    Platonicity (ethics, decision [choice & reason], utility [incentives], biases)
    Status syndrome (the ethics of social gradient & social justice)
    Uncertainties and risks in complex decision making
    Human vulnerability
    The emergence of human rights discourse, theoretical-philosophical reflections on human rights
    Universality and relativity of human rights in ethical decision mak-ing, implication of cultural diversity
    The link between human rights and ethics,
    Biases in decisions (choices under uncertainty)
    Thinking with feelings, the value of empathy
    Exploring the limits of knowledge, objectivity and accountability
    Privacy and confidentiality
Recommended or required reading
  • Beauchamp, Tom L./Childress, James F.: Principles of Biomedical Ethics. Oxford University Press, 7th edition, 2013.
    Graham, Gordon: Ethics and International Relations. Blackwell, 2nd edition, 2008.
    Graham, Hilary: Unequal Lives. Health and Socioeconomic Inequali-ties. Open University Press, 2007.
    Bekelman, J.E./Li, Y./Gross, C.P.: "Scope and impact of financial con-flicts of interest in biomedical research. A systematic review", JA-MA, 289 (4): 454-465, 2003.
    Güldal, D./Semin, S.: "The influences of drug companies' advertising programs on physicians", International Journal of Health Services, 30 (3): 585-595, 2000.
    Lee, R.: "Demographic Change, Welfare, and Intergenerational Trans-fers. A Global Overview", Center for the Economics and Demogra-phy of Aging, 2003.
    Ruof, M.C.: "Vulnerability, vulnerable populations and policy", Kenne-dy Institute of Ethics Journal, 14 (4): 411-425, 2004.
Planned learning activities and teaching methods
  • The course comprises an interactive mix of lectures, discussions and individual and group work.
Assessment methods and criteria
  • To monitor the students’ learning this course will provide ongoing assignments as a basis for feedback and grading (formative assessment) and/or will evaluate the students learning at the end of the course or an instructional unit via exams, final project reports, essays or seminar papers (summative assessment).
Language of instruction
  • English