Ethical Decision-Making Preferences and Associated Moral Distress in Inpatient Nursing Staff

Saturday, April 13, 2013: 3:30 PM

Tracy Estes, PhD, RN, FNP-BC
College of Nursing and Public Health, South University, Glen Allen, VA
Inez Tuck, RN, PhD, MBA
School of Nursing, North Carolina A&T State University, Greensboro, NC
Haywood Spangler, PhD
Education, Leadership Metro Richmond, Richmond, VA

Learning Objective 1: identify the six ethical decision-making preferences and describe the associated ethical dilemma paradigm.

Learning Objective 2: describe how different ethical decision-making preferences may experience moral distress when negotiating an ethical dilemma.

Nurses are the backbone of the healthcare environment and shoulder many stresses through the day-to-day care of patients and their families. Among the many stressors nurses face in the healthcare environment, ethical dilemmas are of major concern. Due to the ambiguity of the ethical situation and the different ethical decision-making preferences people hold, ethical dilemmas can cause serious moral distress among nurses facing them. With this in mind, informing nurses about ethical decision-making preferences may facilitate more effective decision-making when faced with an ethical dilemma and those with other ethical decision-making preferences.

The Spangler Ethical Reasoning Assessment (SERA) items are based on research in rational decision theory and a spectrum of philosophical ethical theories (including feminist, Kantian, liberal-individualist, communitarian, and principle-based common-morality theory).  The SERA connects theory and praxis by showing nurses which type of ethical theory they routinely apply in their professional, day-to-day decision-making.