Philosophy of Medicine and Ethics

The scope of this research group is to address philosophical topics that are at the heart of healthcare, like the impact of technology on today’s medicine.

Team

Biography

Ignaas Devisch

PhD Ignaas Devisch (1970) is professor in Ethics, Philosophy and Medical Philosophy. He holds positions at Ghent University and University College Arteveldehogeschool, Belgium and was research fellow for five years at the Radboud University Nijmegen. He is the supervisor of the research group Philosophy of medicine and ethics. Besides this, he is an active member of several European Networks in philosophy of medicine:

He is expert member of the Belgian Superior Health Council; Research Associate of the Somatechnics Research Centre (MacQuarie University, Australia); he was coordinator of a research group at the Heyendaal Instituut, Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen and was member of The Centre for Ethics and Value Inquiry (UGent). bioethics’, and is consultant for several healthcare organisations. He was part of the Health Innovation Lab (University Leiden, T&O).

He is co-chairman of a Belgian organisation (de Maakbare Mens) which reflects ethically and philosophically upon biomedical evolutions. (www.demaakbaremens.org). As a philosopher, he works at the faculty of Health Sciences and Medicine. Since 2003, he teaches philosophy of medicine, social philosophy, ethics and bio-ethics.

Personal website: htpps://www.ignaasdevisch.com  

Publications

Full list: https://biblio.ugent.be/publication?q=%22ignaas+devisch%22

Articles

  • (2016) Devisch, I., Vanheule, S., Deveugele, M. et al. Victims of disaster: can ethical debriefings be of help to care for their suffering?, Med Health Care and Philos. doi:10.1007/s11019-016-9742-1
  • (2016) Jenny Slatman, Kristin Zeiler, Ignaas Devisch, Can You Restore My “Own” Body? A Phenomenological Analysis of Relational Autonomy, The American Journal of Bioethics, 16:8, 18-20, DOI: 10.1080/15265161.2016.1187219
  • (2015) Devisch, Ignaas and Vanheule Stijn, Foucault at the bedside: a critical analysis of empowering a healthy lifestyle. JECP; doi: 10.111/jep.12329
  • (2014) Devisch, Ignaas and Vanheule Stijn, Singularity and medicine: is there a place for heteronomy in medical ethics?  DOI: 10.1111/jep.12110
  • (2012) Devisch, Ignaas, The tribunal of modern life: The case of UZ Brussels in the light of Odo Marquard’s discussion of autonomy and theodicy. The Journal of Evaluation of Clinical Practice (accepted on April, 29, 2012)

Books

  • (2017) Devisch, Ignaas. Het empathisch teveel. Op naar een werkbare onverschilligheid (De Bezige Bij, Amsterdam).
  • (2016) Devisch, Ignaas, Rusteloosheid (Restlessness) (De Bezige Bij, Amsterdam).
  • (2013) Devisch, Ignaas et al, (Sick of Health) Ziek van gezondheid. Voor elk probleem een pil? (De Bezige Bij, Antwerpen).
  • (2012) Devisch, Ignaas et al. Retreating religion. (Fordham University Press, New York).
  • (2012) Devisch, Ignaas, Jean-Luc Nancy and the question of community (Bloomsbury Press).

Biography

Tania Moerenhout

Tania Moerenhout (1982) received her MD degree at the University of Brussels (VUB) in 2007 and an additional certificate (Advanced Master) in family medicine in 2009. While practicing medicine, she developed an interest in philosophy and consequently earned a Master’s degree in Philosophy from the University of Brussels in 2015. In her Master’s thesis, she examined the question whether e-health will cause a revolution or paradigm shift in medicine. She started her doctoral study in Philosophy at the University of Ghent in 2015 in a part-time position combined with clinical work. In 2016-2017, she spent a year as a Visiting Researcher at the Center for Bioethics and Health Law, University of Pittsburgh, USA. There, she focused on the qualitative part of her PhD project. She will continue working on this project for 2 more years (2017-2019) supported by a Clinical Doctoral Grant of the Research Foundation Flanders (FWO), meanwhile continuing in her part-time position as a general practitioner.

Publications

Full list: https://biblio.ugent.be/publication?q=%22Tania+Moerenhout%22

  • Gabriels K, Moerenhout T, 2018. Exploring Entertainment Medicine and Professionalization of Self-Care: Interview Study Among Doctors on the Potential Effects of Digital Self-Tracking. J Med Internet Res, 20(1). DOI: 10.2196/jmir.8040.
  • Moerenhout, T., Devisch, I., Cornelis, G., 2017. E-health beyond technology: analyzing the paradigm shift that lies beneath. Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy. DOI: 10.1007/s11019-017-9780-3.

  • Moerenhout, T., Borgermans, L., Schol, S., Vansintejan, J., Van De Vijver E., Devroey, D., 2013. Patient health information materials in waiting rooms of family physicians: do patients care? Patient Preference and Adherence, 7, pp.489-97.
  • Devroey, D., Senesael, E., Moerenhout, T., Van De Vijver, E., Vandevoorde, J., 2011. 7-year follow-up of a cardiovascular prevention campaign. Central European Journal of Public Health, 19(4), pp.190-6.

Biography

Marlies Saelaert

Marlies Saelaert (°1985) graduated as a Master in Moral Sciences in 2008. Her Master’s thesis was focused on the aesthetics of Heidegger. In 2010, she received a degree of Advanced Master in Cultural Sciences (Film and New Media) on a dissertation in which she investigated the ethical aspects of war photography.

From 2013 till 2015, Marlies worked at the Free University of Brussels, on a qualitative project which examined the psychosocial experiences of single living, palliative persons with cancer.

Since 2016, Marlies has been working as a doctoral researcher at the University of Ghent on a bioethical project on genetic results that are unrelated to the initial reason for diagnostic testing. The study will be completed at the end of 2019.

Publications

Full list: hhttps://biblio.ugent.be/publication?q=%22marlies+saelaert%22

  • Saelaert, M., Mertes, H., De Baere, E., & Devisch, I. (2018). Incidental or secondary findings: an integrative and patient-inclusive approach to the current debate. European Journal of Human Genetics. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41431-018-0200-9

 

Biography

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Jodie Bernaerdt (1991) obtained a bachelor’s degree in Social Work (2012) at Artevelde University College and a master’s degree in Moral Sciences (2016) at Ghent University. For her master thesis, she carried out an empirical study on men’s experiences and perspectives on their (former) partner’s decision to terminate a pregnancy for non-medical reasons. After her graduation in January 2016, Jodie worked as a researcher at the Department Philosophy and Moral Sciences at Ghent University. There she was part of an interdisciplinary research team that studied the meaning of social and genetic parenthood constructed by different parties that are involved in assisted reproduction with donor gametes. Currently, Jodie is working as a research fellow at the Department Family Medicine and Primary Health Care at Ghent University on a project on the electronic medical record and privacy. Besides this, her role in this group is to support Prof. Dr. Ignaas Devisch in the education programme of physiotherapists and family physicians.

Publications

Full list: https://biblio.ugent.be/publication?q=%22jodie+bernaerdt%22 

  • Provoost, V., Bernaerdt, J., Van Parys, H., Buysse, A., De Sutter, P., & Pennings, G. (2017). “No daddy”, “A kind of daddy”: words used by donor conceived children and (aspiring) parents to refer to the sperm donor. Culture, Health & Sexuality, 1–16.

Biography

Jan-Jakob Delanoye

Jan-Jakob Delanoye (1991) received his MD degree at Ghent University in 2016. Later this year, he will be finishing his residency in family medicine. In the meanwhile, he is involved in the Flemish syndicate for GP trainees (HAIO Overleg Platform) as President and in the European Health Parliament as a member of the Committee on Health Workforce Planning. He is also active in You&EFPC, the young expert panel of the European Forum for Primary Care. Within the Public Health and Primary Care Department, he is engaged as a teaching assistant. 

PhD Projects

Timing:

From January 2016 on

Funded by

GOA

Supervisors

  • Prof. Ignaas Devisch
  • Prof. Heidi Mertes
  • Prof. Elfride De Baere

PhD researcher

  • Marlies Saelaert

Project aims

Genetic testing is evolving at full speed and there is a constant increase of its possibilities. More and more, people with a Mendelian disease are diagnostically tested by whole genome or whole exome sequencing. This technique allows to detect mutations in the entire genome, resulting in a better diagnosis of hereditary diseases and a more effective treatment.

However, sequencing the whole genome/exome can also reveal “incidental findings”. These incidental findings are not related to the initial indication for the genetic test, but they might have a (future) medical value for the patient and/or his relatives. Incidental findings can be a great opportunity for early treatment and intervention, yet they also raise important bioethical questions.

In the Belgian centers for medical genetics, there are, up till now, no standard rules or recommendations on how to report incidental findings and their consequences or on how to organize the patient’s counseling. Moreover, literature is characterized by a lack of studies on the experiences and preferences towards incidental findings of (parents of minor) patients themselves. This scientific absence of the first person perspective is in strong contrast with i.a. the principle of patient autonomy which is one of the central values in current medicines. If we still want to respect this value, it is absolutely necessary to look for the intersection between patients’ preferences and professionals’ practice concerning the report and counseling of incidental findings.

To realize this, we perform an empirical and qualitative study, guided by two main questions:

  • I: What are the experiences and preferences of (parents of minor) patients with a Mendelian disease on the reporting, consequences and counseling of incidental findings in a diagnostic genetic test?
  • II: What is the current practice and policy in Belgian centers for medical genetics concerning the reporting, consequences and counseling of incidental findings in a diagnostic genetic test?

To answer these questions, we, respectively, interview (parents of minor) patients with a Mendelian disease who get a diagnostic genetic test and we organize focus groups with professionals of the Belgian centers for medical genetics. During the phenomenological and thematic analysis of the data, we pay explicit attention to ethical principles such as autonomy and responsibility.

More information and contact

Timing

start October 2015; end: academic year 2019-2020

Funded by

FWO Clinical PhD Grant (Oct 2017 - Sep 2019)

Supervisors

  • prof. Ignaas Devisch
  • prof. An De Sutter
  • prof. Veerle Provoost

PhD researcher

Tania Moerenhout

Project outline

Information and communication technology (ICT) is not only omnipresent in our everyday lives, it has also come to affect our experience of health and health care. Health apps are ubiquitous, dr. Google is always available and the family practice as well as the hospital have become 'digital' in many aspects. The digitalization of health care, generally coined with the term e-health, invades the field of medicine at a very high pace. This extensive adoption of ICT in health care brings forth high expectations of a more efficient and cost-effective care with reduced errors. Moreover, patients in this new health era are often depicted as empowered, autonomous agents, controlling the necessary tools and information to take their health into their own hands.

This study will focus on one particular aspect of e-health, namely the electronic health record (EHR). The widespread use of electronic health records (EHR) intensifies the process of health information exchange (HIE). The locus of medical information is being transferred from the intimacy of the patient-doctor relationship to the cloud, where other care providers and –organizations, but also patients, can access that information. Many countries have recently engaged in eHealth initiatives aimed at facilitating the adoption of national electronic (patient) health records. This leads to one main research question: how will the current evolution of the EHR affect the patient-provider relationship? More specifically we will examine its effect on patient autonomy, responsibility and trust.

The research outline consists of two pathways. The first is a conceptual analysis of the EHR and its integration in the patient-provider relationship. This will be established by bringing together elements from the philosophy of information, the philosophy of technology (technological mediation and postphenomenology) and the philosophy of medicine. Secondly, we will augment this conceptual framework with empirical research in a mixed methods scheme. The main methodology will consist of qualitative research through in-depth interviews with care providers. Next to that we will engage in experimental philosophy using a vignette study in order to elicit patients’ ethical intuitions on this subject. The ultimate goal is to provide recommendations for future design and development of the EHR based on the philosophical and ethical findings of this study.

More information and contact

Timing:

From oktober 2015 on

Funded by:

de Vlaamse Liga tegen Kanker

Cooperation

between University Ghent and the department of Medical Oncology of the University Hospital of Ghent

Project aims

Testicular cancer mostly affects young men who are in the prime of life: beginning their career, starting a family and in great health. The diagnosis and treatment of testis cancer has a profound impact on the lives of these patients, putting it to a stop and confronting them with some existential questions. With an interdisciplinary research team (ethics, clinical psychology and medical oncology) this studies focusses on how persons with testicular cancer experience self, illness, social relationships and the provided care throughout and after treatment. Because the aim of the study is to explore the experiences of these patients, the data consists of in-depth interviews on which an interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA) will be conducted. Thorough this research we aim to optimize the provided care, so that it can be more adjusted to the needs of this specific patient group.

More information and contact

Contact: Ignaas.Devisch@ugent.be

More information: http://www.komoptegenkanker.be/project/de-beleving-van-zelf-ziekte-sociale-relaties-en-zorg-door-patienten-met-testiskanker

  • Timing: October 2017 until September 2019
  • Funded by: King Baudoin Foundation
  • Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Ignaas Devisch
  • PhD Researcher: Jodie Bernaerdt (Jodie.bernaerdt@ugent.be)
  • Project outline:
  • Privacy is shaken up by the digital revolution in society, in which information about ourselves is collected, stored and shared on a large scale. Recently in healthcare, information technologies such as electronic medical records (EMR), wearables and health applications emerged. The digitalization in healthcare (e-health) holds the promise to improve efficiency and quality in healthcare and to provide personalized and evidence-based medicine (Eysenbach, 2001; Meier et al., 2013). Foremost, e-health generates and discloses an immense amount of medical and health related data. Patients become more transparent because their medical data are shared not only with care providers, but also with private and public researchers (Bahr & Schlünder, 2015). Hence, the collection of medical data is not solely used for the intent of taking care of a patient’s health, but also for purposes that are not the initial reason for which these data are collected – the so called secondary use of data.

     

    The main objective of this research project is to evaluate how informational privacy in healthcare is valued by patients and general practitioners, especially now e-health makes a large quantity of health data available, and because there is major interest from outside healthcare (for scientific or financial gain) to get access to these data. This project will therefore focus on the following research questions:

     

    1) Do we need to revise informational privacy in order for it to be consistent with digital evolutions in healthcare, such as sharing data of the EMR with parties outside the healthcare context?

    2) Is it morally acceptable to use patients’ medical and health-related data without their consent?

    3) What are patients’ and general practitioners’ perspectives and moral beliefs on sharing medical data and giving up of informational privacy in order to benefit the common good?

     

    The central point of view throughout the research project is that both patients and general practitioners should be well informed on how data of the EMR is used and should be engaged as stakeholders on which values should be maintained in healthcare.