Although moral distress is now a well-recognized phenomenon among all of the healthcare professions, few evidence-based strategies have been published to address it. In morally distressing situations, the “presenting problem” may be a particular patient situation, but most often signals a deeper unit- or system-centered issue. This article describes one institution’s ongoing effort to address moral distress in its providers. We discuss the development and evaluation of the Moral Distress Consultation Service, an interprofessional, unit/system-oriented approach to addressing and ameliorating moral (...) distress. (shrink)
Background: Healthcare providers who are accountable for patient care safety and quality but who are not empowered to actualize them experience moral distress. Interventions to mitigate moral distress in the healthcare organization are needed. Objective: To evaluate the effect on moral distress and clinician empowerment of an established, health-system-wide intervention, Moral Distress Consultation. Methods: A quasi-experimental, mixed methods study using pre/post surveys, structured interviews, and evaluation of consult themes was used. Consults were requested by staff when moral distress was present. (...) The purpose of consultation is to identify the causes of moral distress, barriers to action, and strategies to improve the situation. Intervention participants were those who attended a moral distress consult. Control participants were staff surveyed prior to the consult. Interviews were conducted after the consult with willing participants and unit managers. Moral distress was measured using the Moral Distress Thermometer. Empowerment was measured using the Global Empowerment Scale. Results: Twenty-one consults were conducted. Analysis included 116 intervention and 30 control surveys, and 11 interviews. A small but significant decrease was found among intervention participants, especially intensive care staff. Empowerment was unchanged. Interview themes support the consult service as an effective mode for open discussion of difficult circumstances and an important aspect of a healthy work environment. Conclusions: Moral distress consultation is an organization-wide mechanism for addressing moral distress. Consultation does not resolve moral distress but helps staff identify strategies to improve the situation. Further studies including follow up may elucidate consultation effectiveness. (shrink)
Background:Moral distress is recognized as a problem affecting healthcare professionals globally. Unaddressed moral distress may lead to withdrawal from the moral dimensions of patient care, burnout, or leaving the profession. Despite the importance, studies related to moral distress are scant in Thailand.Objective:This study aims to describe the experience of moral distress and related factors among Thai nurses.Design:A convergent parallel mixed-methods design was used. The quantitative and qualitative data were collected in parallel using the Measure of Moral Distress for Healthcare Professionals (...) and interview guide. The analysis was conducted separately and then integrated.Participants:Participants were Thai nurses from two large tertiary care institutions in a Southern province of Thailand.Ethical considerations:This study was approved by our organization's Institutional Review Board for Health Sciences Research, and by the Institutional Review Boards of the two local institutions in Thailand. Permission from the publisher was received to translate and utilize the Measure of Moral Distress (MMD-HP) under the license number: 4676990097151.Results:A total of 462 participants completed the survey questions. The top 7 causes of moral distress were related to system-level root causes and end-of-life care situations. Hierarchical multiple regression showed that work units, considering leaving position, and number of moral distress episodes in the past year were significant predictors of moral distress. Twenty interviews demonstrated three main themes of distressing causes: (1) powerlessness (at patients/family-, team-, and organizational-levels), (2) end-of-life issues, and (3) poor team function (poor communication and collaboration, incompetent healthcare providers, and inappropriate behavior of colleagues). The integration of data from both components indicated that the qualitative interviews enrich the quantitative findings, especially as related to the top 7 causes of moral distress.Discussion:Although the experience of moral distress among Thai nurses is similar to studies conducted elsewhere, the patient’s and family’s religious perspective that ties into the concept of moral distress needs to be explored.Conclusions:Although the root causes of moral distress are similar among different cultures, the experience of Thai nurses may vary according to culture and context. (shrink)
Background: Moral distress has been identified as a significant issue in nursing practice for many decades. However, most studies have involved American nurses or Western medicine settings. Cultural differences between Western and non-Western countries might influence the experience of moral distress. Therefore, the literature regarding moral distress experiences among non-Western nurses is in need of review. Aim: The aim of this integrative review was to identify, describe, and synthesize previous primary studies on moral distress experienced by non-Western nurses. Review method: (...) Whittemore and Knafl’s integrative review methodology was used to structure and conduct the review of the literature. Research context and data sources: Key relevant health databases included the Ovid MEDLINE, CINAHL, Web of Science, and Google Scholar databases. Two relevant journals, Nursing Ethics and Bioethics, were manually searched. Ethical consideration: We have considered and respected ethical conduct when performing a literature review, respecting authorship and referencing sources. Findings: A total of 17 primary studies published between 1999 and 2019 were appraised. There was an inconsistency with regard to moral distress levels and its relationship with demographic variables. The most commonly cited clinical causes of moral distress were providing futile care for end-of-life patients. Unit/team constraints (poor collaboration and communication, working with incompetent colleagues, witnessing practice errors, and professional hierarchy) and organizational constraints (limited resources, excessive administrative work, conflict within hospital policy, and perceived lack of support by administrators) were identified as moral distress’s stimulators. Negative impacts on nurses’ physical, psychological, and spiritual well-being were also reported. Conclusion: Further research is needed to investigate moral distress among other healthcare professions which may further build understanding. More importantly, interventions to address moral distress need to be developed and tested. (shrink)
Moral distress, is, at its core, an organizational problem. It is experienced on a personal level, but its causes originate within the system itself. In this commentary, we argue that moral distress is not inherently good, that effective interventions must address the external sources of moral distress, and that while there is a place for resilience in the healthcare professions, it cannot be an effective antidote to moral distress.
The aim of this study was to explore the obligations of nurses and physicians in providing end-of-life care. Nineteen nurses and 11 physicians from a single newborn intensive care unit participated. Using content analysis, an overarching obligation of creating the best possible experience for infants and parents was identified, within which two categories of obligations (decision making and the end of life itself) emerged. Obligations in decision making included talking to parents and timing withdrawal. End-of-life obligations included providing options, preparing (...) parents, being with, advocating, creating peace and normalcy, and providing comfort. Nurses and physicians perceived obligations in both categories, although nurse obligations centered on the end of life while physician obligations focused on decision making. The findings demonstrate that, although the ultimate goal is shared by both disciplines, the paths to achieving that goal are often different. This has important implications for collaboration, communication, and improving the end of life. (shrink)
Moral distress (MD) is well-documented within the nursing literature and occurs when constraints prevent a correct course of action from being implemented. The measured frequency of MD has increased among nurses over recent years, especially since the COVID-19 Pandemic. MD is less understood among nurse leaders than other populations of nurses. A qualitative systematic review was conducted with the aim to synthesize the experiences of MD among nurse leaders. This review involved a search of three databases (Medline, CINAHL, and APA (...) PsychINFO) which resulted in the retrieval of 303 articles. PRISMA review criteria guided authors during the article review and selection process. Following the review, six articles were identified meeting review criteria and quality was assessed using the Critical Appraisal Skills Programme (CASP) Checklist for qualitative studies. No ethical review was required for this systematic review. The six studies included in this review originated from the United States, Brazil, Turkey, and Iran. Leadership roles ranged from unit-based leadership to executive leadership. Assigned quality scores based upon CASP criteria ranged from 6 to 9 (moderate to high quality). Three analytical themes emerged from the synthesis: (1) moral distress is consuming; (2) constrained by the system; and (3) adapt to overcome. The unique contributors of MD among nurse leaders include the leadership role itself and challenges navigating moral situations as they arise. The nurse leader perspective should be considered in the development of future MD interventions. (shrink)