Perceptions of autonomy, privacy and informed consent in the care of elderly people in five European countries: Comparison and implications for the future

Helena Leino-Kilpi, Maritta Anneli Vaelimaeki, Theo Dassen, Maria Gasull, Chryssoula Lemonidou, P. Anne Scott, Anja Schopp, Marianne Arndt, Anne Kaljonen

Research output: Journal article publicationReview articleAcademic researchpeer-review

42 Citations (Scopus)


This article discusses nurses' and elderly patients' perceptions of the realization of autonomy, privacy and informed consent in five European countries. Comparisons between the concepts and the countries indicated that both nurses and patients gave the highest ratings to privacy and the lowest to informed consent. There were differences between countries. According to the patient data, autonomy is best realized in Spain, privacy in the UK (Scotland), and informed consent in Finland. For the staff data, the best results tended to concentrate in the UK. The conceptual and methodological limitations of the study are identified and discussed. Implications of the results are divided into three areas: nursing practice, education and research. In practice, the analysis of patients' values and the ethical sensitivity of nurses are important as part of ethically good care. In nurse education, students should learn to recognize ethical problems, generally and particularly, among vulnerable groups of patients. Multicultural international research is needed in this area. This is the last of a set of five articles published together in this issue of Nursing Ethics in which the results of this comparative research project are presented.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)58-66
Number of pages9
JournalNursing Ethics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2003
Externally publishedYes


  • Autonomy
  • Informed consent
  • Nursing ethics
  • Patients' rights
  • Privacy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Issues, ethics and legal aspects

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