Demographic factors associated with moral sensitivity among nursing students

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Abstract

Background:

Today’s healthcare environment is often characterized by an ethically demanding work situation, and nursing students need to prepare to meet ethical challenges in their future role. Moral sensitivity is an important aspect of the ethical decision-making process, but little is known regarding nursing students’ moral sensitivity and its possible development during nursing education.

Objectives:

The aims of this study were to investigate moral sensitivity among nursing students, differences in moral sensitivity according to sample sub-group, and the relation between demographic characteristics of nursing students and moral sensitivity.

Research design:

A convenience sample of 299 nursing students from one university completed a questionnaire comprising questions about demographic information and the revised Moral Sensitivity Questionnaire. With the use of SPSS, non-parametric statistics, including logistic regression models, were used to investigate the relationship between demographic characteristics and moral sensitivity.

Ethical considerations:

The study followed the regulations according to the Swedish Ethical Review Act and was reviewed by the Ethics Committee of South-East Sweden.

Findings:

The findings showed that mean scores of nursing students’ moral sensitivity were found in the middle to upper segment of the rating scale. Multivariate analysis showed that gender (odds ratio = 3.32), age (odds ratio = 2.09; 1.73), and parental status (odds ratio = 0.31) were of relevance to nursing students’ moral sensitivity. Academic year was found to be unrelated to moral sensitivity.

Discussion and conclusion:

These demographic aspects should be considered when designing ethics education for nursing students. Future studies should continue to investigate moral sensitivity in nursing students, such as if and how various pedagogical strategies in ethics may contribute to moral sensitivity in nursing students.

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