Hear from our Team

How a Bioethicist can help in making difficult healthcare decisions

February 17, 2023

A Bioethicist can reduce the stress and burden that comes with making difficult healthcare decisions

Making health decisions can be overwhelming and distressing.  This can challenge personal values and beliefs and lead to internal conflict and unrest, and sometimes conflict with our loved ones. We may wonder “what is the right thing to do?,” and have uncertainty when there is more than one way to proceed. A Bioethicist can help reduce the stress and burden of decision-making, and provide personalized  support and guidance to make a decision with more confidence. A Bioethicist is a healthcare professional trained to guide people who are unsure about making the best choice that suits their values and goals or doing “the right thing” in a given situation. They have training in ethical theories and decision-making frameworks, and use a systematic and non-judgemental process to assist you to make your decision. Whether making a decision for yourself, or with your partner/family, a Bioethicist will support and guide those navigating a complex decision-making journey.

What are some of the circumstances a Bioethicist can help with?

Examples of decision topics that can be especially challenging include

  • reconciling culture and religion with healthcare treatments
  • decisions about quality of life and setting limits with treatments
  • conflict within your family about your health planning
  • pregnancy termination decisions
  • healthcare decisions pertaining to your baby while pregnant and as a newborn
  • fertility considerations, including:
    • planning for remaining embryos, sperm, or eggs
    • embryo selection process and genetic considerations
    • genetic anomalies and implications for pregnancy planning and parenting
    • third party donations and gestational carriers

When someone is  facing  the above situations, these signs may indicate they can benefit from  help by a bioethicist: 

  • Thinking you know the right thing to do, but factors prevent you from acting
  • Sensing that something is “not right”, or feeling morally uncertain
  • Experiencing conflict between your values (for example, personal, cultural, and religious values), obligations or responsibilities
  • Disagreement amongst stakeholders or decision-makers
  • Making a difficult health decision for yourself or someone else (for example, your child, partner, or parent) 

What is the ultimate goal of getting support from a Bioethicist?

Support from a bioethicist can help those involved in the decision-making process reach a “lasting moral peace” in the face of tough choices. Together with the Bioethicist, someone can explore various possibilities and work towards making a personalized choice. When looking back at a tough decision, this process will help people feel confident that they went through a thorough process, thought about all the considerations, and made the most appropriate choice for their circumstance.

Written By:

Dr. Rebecca Greenberg

More By This Author