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Clinical intervention in aging: ethicolegal issues in assessing risk and benefit

Authors Mallia P

Published 2 December 2010 Volume 2010:5 Pages 373—380


Pierre Mallia
Medical School, University of Malta, Mater Dei Hospital, Malta

Abstract: The ethical dimension of treating the elderly, including risk–benefit analysis, focuses mainly on quality of life and end-of-life issues. These include arguments on advance directives and the concept of extraordinary treatments. This paper looks more closely at the philosophical approach to aging in order to address questions on the direction of research and issues such as longevity and social construction of the aging process. It is the way society moves to understand the value-laden choices on aging that directs the goals of treatment and research. Whilst these vary culturally, one has to reckon with a postmodern view of aging which may, in turn, reflect on the course of action of future care and research in aging. The paper canvasses how, in reality, four principles act as guidelines for moral discourse, and discusses how changing values in society decide this course of action.

Keywords: aging, principles, decision-making, conflict, treatment, clinical decision-making, social construction

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