Background The aim of this article is to give more insight into what ethical challenges clinicians in mental healthcare experience and discuss with a Clinical Ethics Committee in psychiatry in the Region of Southern Denmark. Ethical considerations are an important part of the daily decision-making processes and thereby for the quality of care in mental healthcare. However, such ethical challenges have been given little systematic attention – both in research and in practices. Methods A qualitative content analysis of 55 written case-reports from the Clinical Ethics Committee. The Committee offers clinicians in mental healthcare structured ethical analyses of ethical challenges and makes a thorough written case-report. Results The ethical challenges are grouped into three overarching topics: 1. Clinicians and their relation to patients and relatives. 2. Clinicians and institutional aspects of mental healthcare 3. Clinicians and mental healthcare in a wider social context. Through presentation of illustrative examples the complexity of daily clinical life in mental healthcare becomes evident, as well as typical interests, values and arguments. Conclusions This qualitative study indicates that difficult ethical challenges are an inherent part of mental healthcare that requires time, space and competence to be dealt with adequately.
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