Ethical dilemmas: a resource in public health nurses' everyday work?

Scand J Caring Sci. 2010 Mar;24(1):75-83. doi: 10.1111/j.1471-6712.2009.00688.x. Epub 2009 Oct 21.


The aim of this article is to discuss how ethical dilemmas can be a valuable resource in public health nurses' parent counselling practice. The discussion is based on findings from a study where ten Norwegian public health nurses' narratives about their parent counselling practices are analysed. The context includes intentions and manuals from a state parent counselling program. The study has been approved by Norwegian Social Science Data Services. The narratives provide insight into public health nurses' rationale behind choices of actions, different roles they identify with and the ethical dilemmas they encounter in their everyday work. The ethical dilemmas explicated in the narratives, are connected to expectations concerning the content of parent counselling, as well as the role of the participants in the counselling sessions. The focus on ethical dilemmas that arises through different role-expectations, explicates how public health nurses' counselling practices are characterized by a multiplicity of voices and discourses. This article shows how a multiple-voiced aspect allows public health nurses to change and adjust their practice to meet parents' wishes and needs, without being disloyal to what they perceive to be their public commission.

MeSH terms

  • Ethics, Professional*
  • Humans
  • Nursing
  • Public Health Nursing / ethics*