Hundreds attend international conference hosted by Providence Ethics Center in Portland 

They are some of the world’s leading ethicists. They came from 26 nations and six continents – and they all had one goal: to learn from each other.

The 6th International Conference on Clinical Ethics Consultation held May 11 – 14 in Portland, Ore. brought 436 people together to present and discuss research and scholarship on ethical consultations in clinical settings.

“It’s a chance for us to learn from each other’s work, to become more culturally informed – and, we hope, get even better at what we do,” said the Rev. John Tuohey, PhD, director of the Providence Center for Health Care Ethics, which hosted this year’s conference.

More than 140 presentations were made during the gathering. Topics included the role of ethical consultations in relation to genetic counseling, end of life care, palliative medicine, mental health, health care and the homeless, pandemics and involvement of patient and family members in such conversations. During one evening session, a panel of experts from India, Chile, Brazil and Canada provided international perspectives on clinical ethics.

A conference highlight was the signing of a scientific protocol between Providence’s ethics center and the Institute for History, Philosophy and Ethics of Medicine at the Johannes Gutenberg University, Mainz, Germany. The protocol states the two entities will “focus on research and education, including objectives in the theoretical foundations and methodologies of clinical ethics, practices and quality assurance of clinical ethics consultations and the clinical impact of clinical ethics.”

“The protocol is a good example of the kind of formal collaborative relationships that can be formed through conferences like these,” said Tuohey. “Many participants told me they were impressed with the agreement and the signing ceremony that formalized our networking relationship.”

This year’s international gathering was held at the Portland Art Museum. The conference originated in Ohio and past gatherings took place in Switzerland, Canada, Croatia, and Taiwan. Next year’s conference will be held in Amsterdam.