Impact of profession and wards on moral distress in a community hospital

Karim Bayanzay, Behzad Amoozgar, Varun Kaushal, Alissa Holman, Valentina Som, Shuvendu Sen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: Recently, a singular survey titled “Measure of Moral Distress—Healthcare Professionals,” which addresses shortcomings of previous instruments, has been validated. Aim: To determine how moral distress affects nurses and physicians differently across the various wards of a community hospital. Participant and research context: We distributed a self-administered, validated survey titled “Measure of Moral Distress—Healthcare Professionals” to all nurses and physicians in the medical/surgical ward, telemetry ward, intensive care units, and emergency rooms of a community hospital. Findings: A total of 101 surveys were included in the study. The mean Measure of Moral Distress—Healthcare Professionals score for all respondents was 143.0 (standard deviation = 79.8). The mean Measure of Moral Distress—Healthcare Professionals score was 1.75 greater for nurses than for physicians (92.5 vs 161.5, p <.001), and nurses were 2.52 times more likely to consider leaving their position due to moral distress (68% vs 27%). The mean Measure of Moral Distress—Healthcare Professionals score for moral distress was least prevalent in the medical/surgical ward (92.5, SD = 38.2) and highest in the telemetry ward (197.7, SD = 83.6). The intensive care unit ward had a mean Measure of Moral Distress—Healthcare Professionals score mildly greater than the emergency room. Ethical considerations: No participant identifying information or information connecting a survey response to an individual was collected. This study was approved by the Raritan Bay Medical Center’s Institutional Review Board. Discussion: This study provides insight into the level of moral distress in the community hospital setting. Telemetry nurses experience significantly more than nurses in other wards. Telemetry nurses typically manage patients sicker than medical/surgical wards, however do not have the resources of the critical care units. This scenario presents challenges for telemetry nurses and may explain their elevated moral distress. Conclusion: In community hospitals, telemetry nurses experience a considerably greater amount of moral distress compared to their colleagues in other wards. As measured by the Measure of Moral Distress—Healthcare Professionals questionnaire, moral distress continues to be higher among nurses compared to physicians.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)356-363
Number of pages8
JournalNursing Ethics
Volume29
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 2022

Keywords

  • Clinical ethics
  • ethics of care/care ethics
  • moral distress
  • nurses
  • professional ethics
  • theory/philosophical perspectives

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