Rethinking moral distress: conceptual demands for a troubling phenomenon affecting health care professionals

Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy 21 (4):479-488 (2018)
  Copy   BIBTEX

Abstract

Recent medical and bioethics literature shows a growing concern for practitioners’ emotional experience and the ethical environment in the workplace. Moral distress, in particular, is often said to result from the difficult decisions made and the troubling situations regularly encountered in health care contexts. It has been identified as a leading cause of professional dissatisfaction and burnout, which, in turn, contribute to inadequate attention and increased pain for patients. Given the natural desire to avoid these negative effects, it seems to most authors that systematic efforts should be made to drastically reduce moral distress, if not altogether eliminate it from the lives of vulnerable practitioners. Such efforts, however, may be problematic, as moral distress is not adequately understood, nor is there agreement among the leading accounts regarding how to conceptualize the experience. With this article I make clear what a robust account of moral distress should be able to explain and how the most common notions in the existing literature leave significant explanatory gaps. I present several cases of interest and, with careful reflection upon their distinguishing features, I establish important desiderata for an explanatorily satisfying account. With these fundamental demands left unsatisfied by the leading accounts, we see the persisting need for a conception of moral distress that can capture and delimit the range of cases of interest.

Links

PhilArchive



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 76,363

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Similar books and articles

Moral distress.Caroline Ong - 2015 - Chisholm Health Ethics Bulletin 20 (4):12.
Moral Distress Reconsidered.Joan McCarthy & Rick Deady - 2008 - Nursing Ethics 15 (2):254-262.
'Role' as a moral concept in health care.N. E. Bowie - 1982 - Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 7 (1):57-64.
Moral Distress in Uninsured Health Care.Anita Nivens & Janet Buelow - 2013 - Journal of Bioethical Inquiry 10 (1):123-125.

Analytics

Added to PP
2017-12-19

Downloads
27 (#433,683)

6 months
1 (#451,398)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?