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Ethical implications of digital images for teaching and learning purposes: an integrative review

Authors Kornhaber R, Betihavas V, Baber R

Received 12 March 2015

Accepted for publication 9 April 2015

Published 10 June 2015 Volume 2015:8 Pages 299—305


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 4

Editor who approved publication: Dr Scott Fraser

Rachel Kornhaber,1–3 Vasiliki Betihavas,4 Rodney J Baber,5

1School of Health Sciences, Faculty of Health, University of Tasmania, Rozelle, NSW, 2School of Nursing, The University of Adelaide, Adelaide, SA, 3Severe Burns Injury Unit, Royal North Shore Hospital, St Leonards, NSW, 4School of Nursing, University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW, 5Discipline of Obstetrics, Gynaecology and Neonatology, Sydney Medical School, University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW, Australia

Background: Digital photography has simplified the process of capturing and utilizing medical images. The process of taking high-quality digital photographs has been recognized as efficient, timely, and cost-effective. In particular, the evolution of smartphone and comparable technologies has become a vital component in teaching and learning of health care professionals. However, ethical standards in relation to digital photography for teaching and learning have not always been of the highest standard. The inappropriate utilization of digital images within the health care setting has the capacity to compromise patient confidentiality and increase the risk of litigation. Therefore, the aim of this review was to investigate the literature concerning the ethical implications for health professionals utilizing digital photography for teaching and learning.
Methods: A literature search was conducted utilizing five electronic databases, PubMed, Embase (Excerpta Medica Database), Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature, Educational Resources Information Center, and Scopus, limited to English language. Studies that endeavored to evaluate the ethical implications of digital photography for teaching and learning purposes in the health care setting were included.
Results: The search strategy identified 514 papers of which nine were retrieved for full review. Four papers were excluded based on the inclusion criteria, leaving five papers for final analysis. Three key themes were developed: knowledge deficit, consent and beyond, and standards driving scope of practice.
Conclusion: The assimilation of evidence in this review suggests that there is value for health professionals utilizing digital photography for teaching purposes in health education. However, there is limited understanding of the process of obtaining and storage and use of such mediums for teaching purposes. Disparity was also highlighted related to policy and guideline identification and development in clinical practice. Therefore, the implementation of policy to guide practice requires further research.

Keywords: digital photography, ethics, education, informed consent, practice guidelines, health professionals, photography, teaching materials, health care

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