Korean nurses' ethical dilemmas, professional values and professional quality of life

Nurs Ethics. 2015 Jun;22(4):467-78. doi: 10.1177/0969733014538892. Epub 2014 Jun 24.

Abstract

Background: In the changing medical environment, professional stress continuously increases as the individual's quality of life suffers. Of all the healthcare professions, nursing is especially prone to burnout, compassion fatigue and reduced compassion satisfaction, due to the tensions resulting from the physical and psychological stress of caring for extremely ill patients.

Objectives: This study examined the professional quality of life of clinical nurses in Korea and the relationship between their experiences in ethical dilemmas and professional values.

Methods: This was a cross-sectional study of a convenience sample consisting of 488 clinical nurses. We used four questionnaires to measure the participants' demographic characteristics, experiences in ethical dilemmas, professional nursing values and professional quality of life (ProQOL assessment, Version 5). Ethical considerations: This study received approval from the Institutional Review Board of Bronco Memorial Hospital. Written informed consent was given by all participants.

Results: The nurses' professional quality of life was affected by ethical dilemmas and professional nursing values. The factors influencing compassion satisfaction were age, client domain of ethical dilemmas, social awareness, professionalism of nursing and the roles of nursing services in professional values. The factors influencing burnout were marital status (married), religion (yes), human life domain, professional work domain of ethical dilemmas, social awareness and the role of nursing services in nursing professional values. The factors influencing secondary traumatic stress were human life domain, client domain and the professional work domain of ethical dilemmas.

Conclusion: Intervention to help nurses increase their professional quality of life will have a greater chance of success if they are based on the nurses' values and beliefs about the ethical dilemmas they face and foster the establishment of positive professional values.

Keywords: Compassion fatigue; compassion satisfaction; ethical dilemma; professional nursing values; professional quality of life.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Decision Making*
  • Ethics, Nursing
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Korea
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nursing Staff, Hospital / psychology*
  • Practice Patterns, Nurses' / ethics*
  • Quality of Life*
  • Young Adult