Navigating moral distress using the moral distress map

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Abstract

The plethora of literature on moral distress has substantiated and refined the concept, provided data about clinicians’ (especially nurses’) experiences, and offered advice for coping. Fewer scholars have explored what makes moral distress moral. If we acknowledge that patient care can be distressing in the best of ethical circumstances, then differentiating distress and moral distress may refine the array of actions that are likely to ameliorate it. This article builds upon scholarship exploring the normative and conceptual dimensions of moral distress and introduces a new tool to map moral distress from emotional source to corrective actions. The Moral Distress Map has proven useful in clinical teaching and ethics-related debriefings.

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