May 2023

Foundation Announces Spring 2023 Making a Difference Grants

The Foundation will fund three new research projects from the Spring 2023 cycle of its Making a Difference in Real-World Bioethics Dilemmas grant program.

The Making a Difference program funds bioethics research projects that seek to resolve current challenges in health care, policy, and research. Grants are awarded twice yearly. Since 2013, the Foundation has funded more than 100 Making a Difference grants supporting bioethics research on a wide array of issues including aid-in-dying, deception in medical contexts, discrimination in health care, and responses to the opioid epidemic, among others. 

An ethics-informed policy for urine drug testing in pregnancy: impact on patients and providers
Erica Holland, MD (Boston Medical Center)

Abstract: Identifying pregnant patients with substance use disorder is crucial to optimizing health outcomes for the patient and newborn. Urine drug testing in pregnancy has historically been used as a tool to recognize illicit substance use. However, there is no national standard for whom to test. Indications for testing vary greatly among hospitals and consent is infrequently obtained. Dr. Holland’s project will analyze the effects of a novel institutional policy for urine drug testing in pregnancy on 1) obstetric and pediatric decision-making, 2) patient perceptions of trust, and 3) newborn health outcomes. 

Institutional Obligations for Pragmatic Clinical Trials: Developing A Normative Account and Practical Guidance
Stephanie Morain, PhD (Johns Hopkins University)

Abstract: Traditional bioethics scholarship and related guidance focuses on the obligations owed by clinicians to patients and by researchers to subjects. Yet pragmatic clinical trials are fundamentally institutional endeavors. Numerous ethical challenges have emerged from recent pragmatic clinical trials that require institution-level involvement for their appropriate resolution, yet institutions lack ethical guidance to support them in this work. Prof. Morain’s project will seek to develop an empirically informed, action-guiding model of institutional obligations arising from pragmatic clinical trials.

Trusting Each Other: Enhancing Trust in Health Care Relationships
Matthew Wynia, MD (University of Colorado Denver Anschutz Medical Campus)

Abstract: Trusting patient-clinician relationships should be mutual. A patient may trust or mistrust a doctor, but a doctor may also trust or mistrust a patient. The vast majority of prior research on trust in health care has focused on understanding patient trust. Dr. Wynia’s project will focus on two areas that haven’t been studied nearly as much: (1) clinician trust in patients, including how that can help build reciprocal patient trust in the clinician, and (2) the roles of organizational and system policies and practices on building up or tearing down mutually-trusting relationships in health care.