The Role of Empirical Research in Medical Ethics

writing empirical research reports

Medical ethics has witnessed the renewed interest in practical, ethical issues that health care providers face every day, and how they deal with these issues in practice. It is a move from applied ethics where principals and rules were applied to situations that were complex.

Though the days seem over, when medical ethics was dominated by beneficence, autonomy, justice, and nonmaleficence, were the approaches of the four principles; other methods have since legitimate spaces, within the medical ethics community. Besides these, applicability and bureaucratisation, also threaten ethics in health care.

While writing empirical research reports, you will realise that these primarily accepted theoretical approaches within practices in health care, do not cover all the ways, one can do good. Below is an overview of the contribution of empirical research to medical ethics:

• Testing the Effectiveness of Ethics Intervention

As healthcare facilities focus more of their attention towards providing and improving the ethical quality of their care, it raises the question of whether these interventions, are useful. These facilities take the initiative on quality improvement through holding a regular and structured dialogue on ethical issues and sometimes having conferences, on the same.

Studies into the effectiveness of ethics intervention seek to determine whether the existence of an ethics committee improves the work of care, motivates the staff, or is for the good of the patient.

• Criticism of Normative responses and views

Empirical research also intends to check the effect of normative opinions. An example of such a study is the (Van der Wal et al. 2003). It’s a Dutch study on the effect of the regulations on euthanasia.

It raises questions on the “slippery slope” argument and its plausibility. You may find it in an Empirical Papers Service. In ethical debates, it is a common argument, especially in the medical practice, on matters concerning the end of life.

In the above research, the “slippery slope” argument appeared to be untenable.

• Nourish Debate on Ethical Issues

Technological advances have disrupted different aspects of our lives, and the medical field has felt its effects too. These innovations may raise new normative questions, and empirical research may aid in giving insight on the issues at hand.

In prenatal diagnosis, the doctor may carry out an all-chromosome analysis to identify Down Syndrome. However, this approach yields unsought abnormalities that may not have severe consequences, but which the future parents and doctor, weren’t looking for. Introduction of a research technique that’s selective may raise ethical questions.

The (Van Zwieten et al. 2006) study of unexpected findings in a prenatal diagnosis shows that there’s need for renewed discussions on the purpose of prenatal diagnosis. In that, is a prenatal diagnosis linked to abortions or does it serve other goals?


As opposed to predictions, empirical ethics leads to understanding and insights. Empirical research may result in result in forecasts, too, in any case. It also plays a significant role in the practice of healthcare by putting normative questions at the heart of research.

Taking account of conceptual accounts of normative-empirical relationship will enhance the quality of empirical research on medical ethics. Any expert PhD Empirical Research Writing Service understands that.