Nurses' lived experiences of moral stress support in the intensive care context

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The aim of this study was to analyse and describe lived experiences of support in situations characterized by critical care situations and moral stress in intensive care nursing. An exploratory interpretative study was conducted. Data consisted of interviews with 36 nurses from different types of intensive care units. The first level of analysis of data identified contextual factors, such as type and purpose of support and working conditions. On the next level of analysis five tentative interpretations were identified: (1) receiving organized support is a matter of self-determination, (2) whether to participate in organized support or to be off duty are experienced as mutually exclusive, (3) dealing with moral stress is experienced as a private matter, (4) colleagues managing moral stress serve as models in stress support and (5) not being able to deal with moral stress urges one to seek outside support. A comparison of these interpretations identified three major themes: availability, accessibility and receptivity of support. The main interpretation and conclusion were: lived experience of moral stress support involves an interconnectedness between structural and existential factors. Thus, adequate moral stress support presupposes an allowable professional climate and access to caring supervision.

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