Is There a Nordic Approach to Ethical Questions?


University of Aarhus, Fredriksberg, Denmark


In recent years have witnessed an upsurge in the attention paid to the ethical aspects of our profession. Several reasons may be given including the technical advances within the medical field;

the profound secularization that has taken place in society and therefore also is reflected in medicine;

the pluralism seen in modern Western societies with a diversity of ideologies simultaneously present;

and the increasing respect for the autonomy of the patient with a consequent alteration of the therapist-patient relationship.

Within the psychiatric profession we have witnessed the emergence of several guidelines. Many have focused upon the universality of ethical principles, and the WPA Madrid Declaration is a good example of a set of principles that have been adopted by psychiatric associations worldwide.

The question is whether we have a particular Nordic approach to the ethical aspects of our profession?

The Nordic countries have a long tradition of collaboration. The countries have many similarities with ethical implications such as a long history of democracy, constitutions securing the freedom and rights of their citizens.

We generally believe in basing our society on a welfare model with a well-founded public system for as well education as health providing easy and equitable access to health services for all citizens.

With globalization such rights are however increasingly challenged and the paper will discuss the implications this has on the Nordic system with particular reference to equity in access to services.