To stay or to go, to speak or stay silent, to act or not to act: Moral distress as experienced by psychologists

Ethics and Behavior 15 (3):197 – 212 (2005)
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Abstract

The moral distress of psychologists working in psychiatric and mental health care settings was explored in an interdisciplinary, hermeneutic phenomenological study situated at the University of Alberta, Canada. Moral distress is the state experienced when moral choices and actions are thwarted by constraints. Psychologists described specific incidents in which they felt their integrity had been compromised by such factors as institutional and interinstitutional demands, team conflicts, and interdisciplinary disputes. They described dealing with the resulting moral distress by such means as silence, taking a stance, acting secretively, sustaining themselves through work with clients, seeking support from colleagues, and exiting. Recognizing moral distress can lead to a significant shift in the way we perceive moral choices and understand the moral context of practice

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