Moral Problems Among Dutch Nurses: a survey

Nursing Ethics 6 (6):468-482 (1999)

This article reports on a survey of the moral problems that Dutch nurses experience during their everyday practice. A questionnaire was developed, based on published literature, panel discussions, in-depth interviews and participation observations. The instrument was tested in a pilot study and proved to be useful. A total of 2122 questionnaires were sent to 91 institutions in seven different health care settings. The results showed that nurses were not experiencing important societal issues such as abortion and euthanasia as morally the most problematic, but rather situations such as verbally aggressive behaviour of colleagues towards patients, keeping silent about errors, and medical treatment given against the wishes of patients. Moral problems occurred especially when nurses experienced feelings of powerlessness with regard to the well-being of patients. Moreover, these moral problems proved to be related to institutional organization, leadership, and collaboration with colleagues and other disciplines. Nurses appeared to have a limited awareness of the moral dimensions of their practice
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DOI 10.1177/096973309900600603
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