As our day-to-day lives are increasingly reliant upon (and enmeshed with) digital platforms, it is not surprising that the ways we address and manage our health generally, and mental health in particular, are increasingly digitized as well. Our culture’s generally favorable attitude toward digital solutions for everyday problems has led to the emergence of a digital mental health industry, which includes smartphone applications (“apps”) and telemental health services.
New and largely unregulated, the digital mental health industry presents its toolsets as affordable and a cost and time-effective alternative to many of the problems and barriers associated with the treatment of mental illness: clinician and specialist scarcity, treatment unaffordability, and the geographic remoteness of rural patients. Through a combination of fieldwork and interview analysis, this research addresses these claims and the future of the industry, with findings that are relevant to medical practitioners, technologists, researchers, mental health advocates and activists, and others whose work explores the connections between technology and medicine.
Speaker: Emma Bedor Hiland, PhD Candidate, Department of Communication Studies, University of Minnesota
How does a non-medically trained individual respond when life support no longer supports life? Using her own real life example, Deborah brings the audience on her journey as she learned to navigate the complexities of the medical world in order to honor her husband’s choices regarding medical care at end-of-life.
Speaker: Deborah Day Laxson, Founder of the Health Care Agent Literacy Project and author of the award winning book The Gray Zone: When Life Support No Longer Supports Life."
A disappearing arctic ice cap. Rising oceans. Once in a century floods are occurring annually, even as deserts expand. Plastic and chemicals cover the seas and lands. Pollinating bees are disappearing as agriculture defends the chemicals that kill them. Tropical diseases are migrating north into temperate zones that are warming to greet new species of mosquitos. Some say we are living in an “Anthropocene Epoch” where humans rather than natural forces are transforming the planet. Does bioethics have anything useful to say? Dr. Miles explored the history and future directions for bioethics. This talk was based on a collaboration with Susan Craddock, PhD.
Speaker: Steven Miles, MD, Professor and Maas Family Endowed Chair in Bioethics, Center for Bioethics; and Department of Medicine, University of Minnesota Medical School
“Moral hazard” is a term familiar in economics and business ethics that illuminates why rational parties sometimes choose decisions with bad moral outcomes without necessarily intending to behave selfishly or immorally. The term is not generally used in medical ethics. Decision makers such as parents and physicians generally do not use the concept or the word in evaluating ethical dilemmas. They may not even be aware of the precise nature of the moral hazard problem they are experiencing, beyond a general concern for the patient’s seemingly excessive burden. Our seminar will bring the language and logic of moral hazard to pediatrics. The concept reminds us that decision makers in this context are often not the primary party affected by their decisions. It appraises the full scope of risk at issue when decision makers decide on behalf of others and leads us to separate, respect, and prioritize the interests of affected parties.
Speakers: Don Brunquell, PhD, LP, Affiliate Faculty, Center for Bioethics; Christopher Michaelson, PhD, David A. and Barbara Koch Distinguished Professor of Business Ethics and Social Responsibility, Associate Professor, Ethics & Business Law, University of St. Thomas, Opus College of Business
Healthcare professionals, hospital administrators, and clinical ethics consultants are increasingly aware of the existence of moral distress in the workplace and the potentially damaging long-term effects of burnout, moral distancing, and intent to leave a position or profession. Studies indicate that 15-20% of physicians and nurses are considering leaving their positions due to moral distress. Strategies to address moral distress are needed but few have been proposed. Such strategies are necessarily different from those used in clinical ethics consultation where the objective is to resolve a patient-focused problem. In morally distressing situations, the problems are often at the unit, team, and/or organizational level; solutions require interprofessional collaborative effort and buy-in at different levels of the organization.
Speakers: Mary Faith Marshall, PhD, FCCM, Emily Davie and Joseph S. Kornfeld Professor of Biomedical Ethics, University of Virginia; Beth Epstein, PhD, RN, HEC-C, FAAN, Associate Professor, Chair, Department of Acute and Specialty Care, University of Virginia School of Nursing
Biobanking is becoming an increasingly important component of genomic and medical research. President Obama’s Precision Medicine Initiative ― which proposes the collection of genetic and clinical data for upwards of 1 million Americans ― is just one example of this trend in medical science. Because biobanks depend upon donations from a willing public, it is important that potential donors trust that their donations are being used to promote goals they endorse. Earlier research has shown that some Americans have significant moral concerns about the kinds of research that might be done with their donations, hence the current default model of “blanket” or “broad” consent used by biobanks ― which ignores these concerns ― may diminish willingness to donate. In an effort to better understand the extent and implications of these moral concerns, we fielded a survey examining associations between moral concerns and willingness to donate to a biobank. We found that most people do have moral concerns that significantly affect their willingness to donate to a biobank using blanket consent and that these moral concerns vary across subgroups of the population. But should we care? After all, donors to biobanks rarely learn how their donations are used and “what you do not know cannot harm you.”
Speaker: Raymond De Vries, PhD, Professor and Co-Director, Center for Bioethics and Social Sciences in Medicine, University of Michigan Medical School
In today’s aging society, the line between life-giving therapies and too much treatment is hard to see — it is obscured by a perfect storm created by private industry, insurance reimbursement and the promises of evidence and new technologies. The lecture reveals what drives the storm’s “more is better” approach to medicine: a nearly invisible chain of social, economic and bureaucratic forces that has made once-extraordinary treatments seem ordinary and necessary. The lecture provides a map to the socio-cultural sources of our health care dilemmas.
Speaker: Sharon Kaufman, PhD, Chair, Department of Anthropology, History and Social Medicine; Professor Emerita, Medical Anthropology, University of California San Francisco
While the adoption of the electronic health record (EHR) seems to have improved the efficiency and safety of healthcare practices, it has also raised significant ethical concerns. Confidentiality issues related to data theft and hacking are often in the news. There are complaints of the computer’s intrusion into the clinician-patient relationship. Clinicians cite their frustration with the EHR, and some attribute professional burnout to their encounters with the EHR. How can Karl Marx help us understand the alienation providers experience when working with and for the EHR? Can the EHR be humanized?
Speaker: Don Postema, PhD, Program Director of Medical Bioethics, HealthPartners; Affiliate Faculty, Center for Bioethics; Professor, Department of Philosophy, College of Arts & Sciences, Bethel University
This forum featured three professionals conducting work and research in different regions of Africa and on very different aspects of health and health care. Each of spoke about their work, with an emphasis on how ethics informs it and how their work derives new questions about what ethics means, for whom, and why. After discussion among the three, the audience participated in continuing to debate the meaning of ethics, and how the many issues relating to health care across Africa push us to consider ethics in new ways.
Panelists: Rajesh Panjabi, MD, MPH, CEO, Last Mile Health; Associate Physician, Division of Global Health Equity, Harvard Medical School, Brigham and Women's Hospital; Siri Suh, MPH, PhD, Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies; Institute for Global Studies, University of Minnesota; Michael Westerhaus, MD, Assistant Professor of Medicine, University of Minnesota; Co-director SocMed; Medical Director, Center for International Health
Cosponsored by: African Studies Initiative | Department of African American and African Studies | Center for Global Health and Social Responsibility | Interdisciplinary Center for the Study of Global Change | Institute for Global Studies |Department of Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies | Working Group on Health Disparities, School of Public Health