The importance of time in ethical decision making.

Monteverde, Settimio (2009). The importance of time in ethical decision making. Nursing ethics, 16(5), pp. 613-624. Sage Publications 10.1177/0969733009106653

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Departing from a contemporary novel about a boy who is going to die from leukaemia, this article shows how the dimension of time can be seen as a morally relevant category that bridges both 'dramatic' issues, which constitute the dominant focus of bioethical decision making, and 'undramatic' issues, which characterize the lived experience of patients, relatives and health care workers. The moral task of comparing the various time dimensions of a given situation is explained as an act of 'synchronizing' the clocks. Ethical sensitivity and competence are presented as core skills that allow a continuity of care in situations where dramatic issues seem to be resolved, but undramatic ones are still not addressed. A nine-step model of shared decision making is proposed as an approach to identifying critical junctures within an illness trajectory and synchronizing the clocks of the involved actors.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


School of Health Professions
School of Health Professions > G Teaching


Monteverde, Settimio0000-0002-7041-2663


R Medicine > RT Nursing




Sage Publications




Settimio Monteverde

Date Deposited:

13 Jul 2020 14:31

Last Modified:

18 Dec 2020 13:30

Publisher DOI:



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