Table 2

Interview guide. Main questions of the interview guide used in the present study of the ethical reasoning of oncology physicians and molecular biologists.

The interview guide below was used in the present study of the ethical reasoning of oncology physicians and molecular biologists. It consists of 13 main questions, each containing a number of sub-questions (the sub-questions are not presented here).


1. Please describe your background

2. Please describe your working day

3. What are the positive/satisfactory aspects of your job?

4. What are the negative/unsatisfactory aspects of your work?

5. In your profession, what makes a person qualified?

6. What are the perspectives of your research?

7. Have you ever been faced with difficult decisions about whether or not to participate in a research project? Or how to treat a patient?

8. Do you feel well-prepared to assess ethical problems about your participation in a research project? Or about what kind of treatment a patient should receive?

9. Presentation of an actual case:

In 2003, it was reported in Science that 2 out of 10 patients treated with retroviral mediated gene therapy against the immune system disease SCID-X1 developed leukaemia three years after the treatment. The gene therapy resulted in a functional immune system in 9 out of 10 patients, but 2 patients developed T cell leukaemia caused by insertional mutagenesis. What is your immediate assessment of this case?

10. Presentation of an actual case:

In 2002, the Danish newspaper Information reported how an Italian obstetrician had fertilized an infertile woman using the clone of a man. What is your immediate assessment of this case?

11. Presentation of bioethical principles:

Some bioethicists argue that four ethical principles have to be balanced when it comes to assessing bioethical cases: Respect for the patient's autonomy, an obligation to do good (beneficence), an obligation not to harm (nonmaleficence) and just and equal distribution of welfare services. How do you understand these concepts? Are these principles at stake in your practice?

Other bioethicists believe that the principle of respecting the patient's autonomy is too narrow to protect the human person, and that it should be supplemented with the principles of respect for the patient's dignity, vulnerability and integrity. How do you understand these concepts? Are these principles at stake in your practice?

12. Is the amount of time/resources available to you in your daily work sufficient to reflect on ethical issues?

13. Have you been involved in the implementation of concrete initiatives, projects or seminars about ethical issues in your profession?


Ebbesen and Pedersen BMC Medical Ethics 2008 9:5   doi:10.1186/1472-6939-9-5

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