Ethics of caring: the patient’s perspective in the care relationship

In this module, the ethics of caring is presented as a focus to reflectively think about methods to introduce it into clinical practice and the health care system. The ethics of caring is proposed to improve the quality of care in the context of epidemiologic shifts and the use of new technologies. Putting this ethics of caring into the perspective of the medical practice continuum allows us to shed light on its origin, while the description of its limits allows for reflective thinking on how to adapt to care-giving. Clinical vignettes will illustrate the various aspects we might want to re-examine in order to change the paradigm of the patient-doctor relationship.

Medicine and Humanities modules focus on philosophy, ethics, history, arts and literature as they relate to the practice of medicine. Prepared by specialists in medical and human sciences, these modules aim to provide a basis of support for knowledge and reflection so that students and health care professionals are able to develop their vision of disease and care from a bio-psycho-social perspective within a wider field of knowledge.



The author
Luigi Flora is a chronically ill patient who obtained a Ph.D. in Educational Studies through his study of patients’ experience. He is now associate professor at the École des hautes études en santé publique (EHESP) and co-creator of a school of patient care in France. His rather atypical path has led him from life with several chronic diseases to university studies, and finally to investing himself into the curriculums of medical faculties. These research orientations opened the path for him to participate in the creation of the first university of patients in a French Faculty of Medicine, and to collaborate successively in the creation of entities composed of patients at the University of Montreal’s Faculty of Medicine, in Canada, known as the Département de collaboration et partenariat patient (Department of Patient Collaboration and Partnership).

The learning objectives are:

  • Present the ethics of caring as a relevant model for the development of clinical practice in the context of the care relationship.
  • Name the four phases of the ethics of caring.
  • Explain the principles of meaningful communication allowing for respect and reciprocity in the care relationship.
  • Justify the relevance of the care offered in four clinical cases, taking into consideration the four phases of the ethics of caring.



Throughout the module, we invite you to PAUSE AND REFLECT in order to reinforce what you have learned. Take the time to write down your answers and ideas. An answer is given by the expert to help you deepen and ground your reflection. It is not meant to challenge the value of your personal answer but is there to offer new directions.
We also invite you to take personal notes using the “Note Taking” tool on the right.

Subject matter expert: Luigi Flora, Ph.D
Concept Development and Project Management: Isabelle Burnier, MD, M.Ed
Editorial Committee: Jean Roy, MD, Diane Bouchard-Lamothe, M. Sc.S.
Revision and translation : Joanne Myrre
Programming and Graphic Design: Medtech, University of Ottawa
Production: april 2016