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Ethical Principles


Unless we are making progress in our nursing every year, every month, every week, take my word for it we are going back"

Florence Nightingale, 1914

  1. Autonomy: Having the freedom to make choices about issues that affect ones life and is closely linked to to the notion of respect for persons, and is an important principle in cultures where all individuals are considered to be unique and valuable members of society. Autonomy also refers to a situation in which even the researcher cannot link information with a particular participant in a  study.

  2. Beneficence: The ethical principle that requires one to act in a away that benefits another. In research, this implies the protection from harm and discomfort, including a balance between the benefits and risks of a study.

  3. Nonmaleficence: An ethical principle related to beneficence that requires one to act in such a manner as to avoid harm to another, including deliberate harm, risk of harm,  and harm that occurs during the performance of beneficial acts.

  4. Veracity: Truth- telling

  5. Confidentiality: The ethical principle that requires nondisclosure of private or secret information with which one is entrusted. In research, confidentiality refers to the researchers assurance to participants that information provided will not be made public or available to anyone other  than those involved in the research process without the participants consent.

  6. Justice:  An ethical principle that relates to fair, equitable, and appropriate treatment in light of what is due or owed to the person, recognizing that giving to some will deny receipts to others who might other wise might have received these things. In research,  justice implies the rights of fair treatment and privacy, including anonymity and confidentiality.

  7. Fidelity: An ethical principle related to the concept of faithfulness and the practice of promise keeping.


Burkhardt, M. A. & Nathaniel, A. K. (2002). Ethics and issues in contemporary nursing. Clifton Park, New York: Delmar Learning.

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