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CE: Moral Distress A Catalyst in Building Moral Resilience

Rushton, Cynda Hylton PhD, RN, FAAN; Caldwell, Meredith BA; Kurtz, Melissa MSN, RN

AJN, American Journal of Nursing: July 2016 - Volume 116 - Issue 7 - p 40–49
doi: 10.1097/01.NAJ.0000484933.40476.5b
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Moral distress is a pervasive problem in the nursing profession. An inability to act in alignment with one's moral values is detrimental not only to the nurse's well-being but also to patient care and clinical practice as a whole. Moral distress has typically been seen as characterized by powerlessness and victimization; we offer an alternate view. Ethically complex situations and experiences of moral distress can become opportunities for growth, empowerment, and increased moral resilience. This article outlines the concept and prevalence of moral distress, describes its impact and precipitating factors, and discusses promising practices and interventions.

This article details the concept and prevalence of moral distress in the nursing profession, describes its impact and precipitating factors, and discusses promising practices and interventions.

Cynda Hylton Rushton is the Anne and George L. Bunting Professor of Clinical Ethics at the Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics and a professor of nursing and pediatrics at the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing, Baltimore, MD. Meredith Caldwell is a research specialist in the Department of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck at the University of California, San Francisco. At the time of this writing, she was the research program coordinator at the Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics. Melissa Kurtz is a neonatal ICU nurse at the Johns Hopkins Hospital and a doctoral candidate at the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing. Contact author: Cynda Hylton Rushton, crushto1@jhu.edu. The authors and planners have disclosed no potential conflicts of interest, financial or otherwise.

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