Moral Sensitivity in Psychiatric Practice

Nursing Ethics 4 (6):472-482 (1997)
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Abstract

This study reports the results of a study of Swedish psychiatrists’ responses to moral statements related to decision making in the psychiatric context. Use was made of the Moral Sensitivity Questionnaire, a modified instrument previously constructed from a theory of moral sensitivity. This Likert-type scale contains 30 items constructed from the following categories: interpersonal orientation, structuring moral meaning, benevolence, modifying autonomy, experiencing moral conflict, and trust in medical knowledge and principles of care. The purpose was to identify possible differences in responses rather than to evaluate right or wrong responses. The analysis is based on 754 completed questionnaires. The results of the study showed some significant differences in the item and category levels; for example, male psychiatrists experienced more conflicts than female psychiatrists and agreed to a greater extent that medical knowledge was most important in deciding what was best for the patient. The results also showed that more female than male psychiatrists thought that the relationship with the patient was most important in psychiatric practice.

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