Theoretical frameworks used to discuss ethical issues in private physiotherapy practice and proposal of a new ethical tool

In the past, a number of researchers in the field of physiotherapy have contended that physiotherapy clinicians do not use ethical knowledge to solve ethical issues raised by their practice often. Does this assertion still hold true? Do the theoretical frameworks used by researchers and clinicians allow them to analyze thoroughly the ethical issues they deal with in their everyday practice? In our quest for answers, we conducted a literature review and analyzed the ethical theoretical frameworks used by physiotherapy researchers and clinicians to discuss the ethical issues raised by private physiotherapy practice. The final analysis corpus consisted of thirty-nine texts. The main finding is that researchers and clinicians in physiotherapy rarely use ethical knowledge to analyze the ethical issues that arise in their practice and that gaps exist in the theoretical frameworks currently used to analyze these issues. Consequently, the authors developed, for ethical analysis, a four-part prism which was called the Quadripartite Ethical Tool (QET). This tool can be incorporated into existing theoretical frameworks to enable professionals to integrate ethical knowledge into their ethical analyses. The innovative particularity of the QET is that it encompasses three ethical theories (utilitarism, deontologism, and virtue ethics) and axiological ontology (professional values) and also draws on both deductive and inductive approaches. It is the author’s hope that this new tool will assist researchers and clinicians in integrating ethical knowledge into their analysis of ethical issues and contribute to fostering ethical analyses that are grounded in relevant philosophical and axiological foundations.