Tertiary hospital nurses’ ethical sensitivity and its influencing factors: A cross-sectional study

Nursing Ethics 29 (1):104-113 (2022)

Abstract

Background: High ethical sensitivity positively affects the quality of nursing care; nevertheless, Chinese nurses’ ethical sensitivity and the factors influencing it have not been described. Research objectives: The purpose of this study was to describe ethical sensitivity and to explore factors influencing it among Chinese-registered nurses, to help nursing administrators improve nurses’ ethical sensitivity, build harmony between nurses and patients, and promote the patients’ health. Research design: This was a descriptive, cross-sectional study. Participants and research context: We recruited 500 nurses from several departments in three tertiary hospitals. The Chinese Moral Sensitivity Questionnaire–Revised version and the Jefferson Scale of Empathy-Health Professionals were used to assess the nurses’ ethical sensitivity and empathy ability, respectively. Fifteen sociodemographic variables were included in the questionnaires. Ethical considerations: Informed consent was obtained from the participants regarding participation and data storage and handling. This program has been examined and supported by the research center of medical ethics and professional ethics of Guilin Medical University. The Approval No. was 2016RWYB04. The whole research process is conducted strictly according to ethical requirements. Results: The valid response rate was 84.40%. The total score of Chinese Moral Sensitivity Questionnaire–Revised was 35.82 ± 8.17. The subscale scores of moral responsibility and strength and sense of moral burden were 21.50 ± 4.91 and 14.33 ± 3.98, respectively. Significant differences were found among age groups, gender, years of working, category of profession, and quality of family communication regarding nurses’ ethical sensitivity. Regression analysis showed that the main factors influencing nurses’ ethical sensitivity were gender, years of working, quality of family communication, career satisfaction, and empathic ability. Discussion: Our findings suggest that Chinese nurses’ ethical sensitivity in tertiary hospitals in Guilin is at a medium level. Conclusion: The director of nursing schools and hospitals in China should pay attention to nurses’ ethical sensitivity and should intensify education and training to improve nurses’ ethical sensitivity. Further studies should focus on interventions aimed at improving Chinese nurses’ ethical sensitivity.

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