Employees' knowledge, attitudes and experience of ethics : a case study in the Ilembe Health District.
This study was conducted within the Ilembe Health District which is situated within Kwa Zulu-Natal, South Africa. A lack of ethical behaviour and recent scandals involving employees of the district which included assaulting each other, insulting patients because of their HIV status and instructing a mother to carry her dead baby home three kilometres away within an hour of delivery. These appalling scandals have created an interest in ethics. This research project was necessary as episodes of unethical behaviour have increased and are disconcerting. The objects of the research were to assess the knowledge and attitude of employees toward ethics, identify barriers related to employees behaving in an ethical manner and to determine current ethical stance amongst employees and understand employee perception on whistle-blowing. A quantitative cross sectional case study design involving a survey was applied for this study. Questionnaires were administered to employees at their workplace over a period of two weeks. Respondents were requested to rate the items that they believed contributed to unethical behaviour using a four point Likert-scale measurement tool. Attached to the questionnaire was a consent form was stating that the participants’ details were confidential and that they may withdraw from the survey at any time. The quantitative data was analysed by a statistician using the SPSS statistical procedures. The analysed data was utilised to interpret the participants’ views in relation to knowledge of and attitudes towards ethics. More than 80% of the respondents had more than 5 years of service, with nearly a quarter (24.0%) having more than 20 years’ service. This was a useful statistic as it indicated that the respondents had a fair amount of experience and would have responded from an experienced viewpoint. A quarter (25.3%) of the respondents felt that whistle blowing does not curb unethical behaviour and just over one quarter (27.7%) of the respondents felt that whistle-blowers should not be protected. More than 80% of the respondents felt that ethical conduct should be made a key performance area.