Defending Against Moral Distress

A collaborative initiative offers recommendations to build moral resilience.

All nurses have at some point been faced with situations that challenge their values. Whether dealing with families or patients or the actions of colleagues, we may be faced with acting (or not acting) in accordance with our professional or personal values. I can easily recall several situations (which I detail in my February editorial) that involved unnecessary invasive procedures and surgery or removing life support.

Such situations take a toll on the individual and the care team and ultimately have a negative effect on patient care quality. Moral distress is not something that can be entirely eliminated—there will always be situations that provoke angst. But individuals can build moral resilience if they learn to recognize it when it occurs and if their organizations support them in finding ways to manage ethically challenging situations.

This month, we’re pleased to publish the executive summary of a collaborative initiative that brought experts together to identify promising practices to help individuals and organizations mitigate the effects of moral distress. The project was developed by the Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics, the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing, the American Journal of Nursing, and the Journal of Christian Nursing, along with the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses and the American Nurses Association.

In August, as we described at the time on this blog, the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing hosted 46 nurses, ethicists, and representatives from organizations to examine ways to promote moral resilience. The group identified key elements common among programs currently in practice and developed recommendations for both individuals and organizations to build on. To learn more, read the full Transforming Moral Distress into Moral Resilience in Nursing report (it’s also available in a downloadable digital magazine format).

2017-02-06T09:15:27+00:00 February 3rd, 2017|Ethics, Nursing|0 Comments

Editor-in-chief, AJN

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