Experienced speech-language pathologists' responses to ethical dilemmas: An integrated approach to ethical reasoning

Belinda Kenny, Michelle Lincoln, Susan Balandin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


To investigate the approaches of experienced speech-language pathologists (SLPs) to ethical reasoning and the processes they use to resolve ethical dilemmas. Method: Ten experienced SLPs participated in in-depth interviews. A narrative approach was used to guide participants' descriptions of how they resolved ethical dilemmas. Individual narrative transcriptions were analyzed by using the participant's words to develop an ethical story that described and interpreted their responses to dilemmas. Key concepts from individual stories were then coded into group themes to reflect participants' reasoning processes. Results: Five major themes reflected participants' approaches to ethical reasoning: (a) focusing on the well-being of the client, (b) fulfilling professional roles and responsibilities, (c) attending to professional relationships, (d) managing resources, and (e) integrating personal and professional values. SLPs demonstrated a range of ethical reasoning processes: applying bioethical principles, casuistry, and narrative reasoning when managing ethical dilemmas in the workplace. Conclusions: The results indicate that experienced SLPs adopted an integrated approach to ethical reasoning. They supported clients' rights to make health care choices. Bioethical principles, casuistry, and narrative reasoning provided useful frameworks for facilitating health professionals' application of codes of ethics to complex professional practice issues.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)121-134
Number of pages14
JournalAmerican Journal of Speech-Language Pathology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2010
Externally publishedYes


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