Ethical conflict among nurses working in the intensive care units

Nursing Ethics 26 (7-8):2225-2238 (2019)
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Abstract

Background:Ethical conflict is a barrier to decision-making process and is a problem derived from ethical responsibilities that nurses assume with care. Intensive care unit nurses are potentially exposed to this phenomenon. A deep study of the phenomenon can help prevent and treat it.Objectives:This study was aimed at determining the frequency, degree, level of exposure, and type of ethical conflict among nurses working in the intensive care units.Research design:This was a descriptive cross-sectional research.Participants and research context:In total, 382 nurses working in the intensive care units in Iranian hospitals were selected using the random sampling method. Data were collected using the Ethical Conflict in Nursing Questionnaire-Critical Care Version (Persian version).Ethical considerations:This study was approved by the Medical Research Ethics Committee. Ethical considerations such as completing the informed consent form, ensuring confidentiality of information, and voluntary participation were observed.Findings:The results showed that the average level of exposure to ethical conflict was 164.39 ± 79.06. The most frequent conflict was related to “using resources despite believing in its futility,” with the frequency of at least once a week or a month (68.6%, n = 262). The most conflictive situation was violation of privacy (76.9%, n = 294). However, the level of exposure to ethical conflict according to the theoretical model followed was the situation of “working with incompetent staff.” The most frequently observed type of conflict was moral dilemma.Conclusion:The moderate level of exposure to ethical conflict was consistent with the results of previous studies. However, the frequency, degree, and type of ethical conflict were different compared to the results of other studies. Recognizing ethical conflict among intensive care unit nurses can be useful as it allows to consolidate those measures that favor low levels of ethical conflict, design appropriate strategies to prevent ethical conflicts, and improve the nursing work environment.

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