Nurse moral distress and ethical work environment

Nurs Ethics. 2005 Jul;12(4):381-90. doi: 10.1191/0969733005ne809oa.


This study examined the relationship between moral distress intensity, moral distress frequency and the ethical work environment, and explored the relationship of demographic characteristics to moral distress intensity and frequency. A group of 106 nurses from two large medical centers reported moderate levels of moral distress intensity, low levels of moral distress frequency, and a moderately positive ethical work environment. Moral distress intensity and ethical work environment were correlated with moral distress frequency. Age was negatively correlated with moral distress intensity, whereas being African American was related to higher levels of moral distress intensity. The ethical work environment predicted moral distress intensity. These results reveal a difference between moral distress intensity and frequency and the importance of the environment to moral distress intensity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Burnout, Professional / prevention & control
  • Burnout, Professional / psychology*
  • Conflict, Psychological
  • Deception
  • Ethics, Nursing*
  • Factor Analysis, Statistical
  • Health Facility Environment / ethics
  • Health Facility Environment / organization & administration
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Humans
  • Mid-Atlantic Region
  • Morals*
  • Nurse's Role / psychology
  • Nursing Methodology Research
  • Nursing Staff, Hospital / ethics*
  • Nursing Staff, Hospital / organization & administration
  • Nursing Staff, Hospital / psychology*
  • Organizational Culture
  • Patient Advocacy / ethics
  • Patient Advocacy / psychology
  • Personnel Turnover
  • Power, Psychological
  • Professional Autonomy
  • Risk Factors
  • Social Responsibility
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Workplace / organization & administration
  • Workplace / psychology*