Consequences of clinical situations that cause critical care nurses to experience moral distress

Nursing Ethics 19 (4):479-487 (2012)
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Little is known about the consequences of moral distress. The purpose of this study was to identify clinical situations that caused nurses to experience moral distress, to understand the consequences of those situations, and to determine whether nurses would change their practice based on their experiences. The investigation used a descriptive approach. Open-ended surveys were distributed to a convenience sample of 204 critical care nurses employed at a university medical center. The analysis of participants’ responses used an inductive approach and a thematic analysis. Each line of the data was reviewed and coded, and the codes were collapsed into themes. Methodological rigor was established. Forty-nine nurses responded to the survey. The majority of nurses had experienced moral distress, and the majority of situations that caused nurses to experience moral distress were related to end of life. The nurses described negative consequences for themselves, patients, and families



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Mary Funk
Ludwig Maximilians Universität, München