Moral sensitivity and moral distress in Iranian critical care nurses

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Abstract

Background:

Moral sensitivity is the foremost prerequisite to ethical performance; a review of literature shows that nurses are sometimes not sensitive enough for a variety of reasons. Moral distress is a frequent phenomenon in nursing, which may result in paradoxes in care, dealing with patients and rendering high-quality care. This may, in turn, hinder the meeting of care objectives, thus affecting social healthcare standards.

Research objective:

The present research was conducted to determine the relationship between moral sensitivity and moral distress of nurses in intensive care units.

Research design:

This study is a descriptive-correlation research. Lutzen’s moral sensitivity questionnaire and Corley Moral Distress Questionnaire were used to gather data.

Participants and research context:

A total of 153 qualified nurses working in the hospitals affiliated to Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences were selected for this study. Subjects were selected by census method.

Ethical considerations:

After explaining the objectives of the study, all the participants completed and signed the written consent form. To conduct the study, permission was obtained from the selected hospitals.

Findings:

Nurses’ average moral sensitivity grade was 68.6 ± 7.8, which shows a moderate level of moral sensitivity. On the other hand, nurses also experienced a moderate level of moral distress (44.8 ± 16.6). Moreover, there was no meaningful statistical relationship between moral sensitivity and moral distress (p = 0.26).

Discussion:

Although the nurses’ moral sensitivity and moral distress were expected to be high in the intensive care units, it was moderate. This finding is consistent with the results of some studies and contradicts with others.

Conclusion:

As moral sensitivity is a crucial factor in care, it is suggested that necessary training be provided to develop moral sensitivity in nurses in education and practical environments. Furthermore, removing factors that contribute to moral distress may help decrease it in nurses.

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