Moral distress and avoidance behavior in nurses working in critical care and noncritical care units

Nursing Ethics 20 (5):0969733012452882 (2012)
Abstract
Nurses facing impediments to what they perceive as moral practice may experience moral distress. The purpose of this descriptive, cross-sectional study was to determine similarities and differences in moral distress and avoidance behavior between critical care nurses and non-critical care nurses. Sixty-eight critical care and 28 non-critical care nurses completed the Moral Distress Scale and Impact of Event Scale (IES). There were no differences in moral distress scores (F = 0.892, p = 0.347) or impact of event scores (F = 3.80, p = 0.054) between groups after adjusting for age. There was a small positive correlation between moral distress and avoidance behaviors for both the groups. Moral distress is present in both critical care and noncritical care nurses. It is important that nurses are provided with opportunities to cope with this distress and that retention strategies include ways to reduce suffering and mitigate the effects on professional practice
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