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Applying a Balm: Medicating the Patient to Treat the (Moral) Distress of Caregivers

Mahon, Margaret M., PhD, CRNP, FAAN, FPCN; Barker, Karen L., MSN, CRNP

Journal of Hospice & Palliative Nursing: October 2018 - Volume 20 - Issue 5 - p 433–439
doi: 10.1097/NJH.0000000000000491
Ethics Series

Moral distress occurs when a nurse knows the right action but is impeded from taking that right action because of institutional constraints. Caring for patients who are dying might evoke distress, including moral distress. The distress from a difficult clinical situation is likely to permeate other areas of practice. In this article, 2 cases are used as a means to distinguish moral distress from other distress arising from clinical situations. Opportunities to alleviate distress include increasing knowledge, improved communication, enhanced collaboration, and development of institutional supports.

Margaret M. Mahon, PhD, CRNP, FAAN, FPCN, is nurse practitioner, Pain & Palliative Care, Bethesda, Maryland.

Karen L. Barker, MSN, CRNP, is nurse practitioner, Pain & Palliative Care, Bethesda, Maryland.

Address correspondence to Margaret M. Mahon, PhD, CRNP, FAAN, FPCN, National Institutes of Health, 10 Center Drive, Bldg 10/CRC MSN 1517, Bethesda, MD 20892 (mimimahon@hotmail.com).

The authors have no conflicts of interest to disclose.

© 2018 by The Hospice and Palliative Nurses Association.