The effect of ethics training on students recognizing ethical violations and developing moral sensitivity

Nurs Ethics. 2015 Sep;22(6):661-75. doi: 10.1177/0969733014542673. Epub 2014 Aug 4.


Background: Moral sensitivity is a life-long cognitive ability. It is expected that nurses who work in a professional purpose at "curing human beings" should have a highly developed moral sensitivity. The general opinion is that ethics education plays a significant role in this sense to enhance the moral sensitivity in terms of nurses' professional behaviors and distinguish ethical violations.

Aim: This study was conducted as intervention research for the purpose of determining the effect of the ethics training on fourth-year students of the nursing department recognizing ethical violations experienced in the hospital and developing ethical sensitivity.

Methods: The study was conducted with 50 students, with 25 students each in the experiment and control groups. Students in the experiment group were provided ethics training and consultancy services. The data were collected through the data collection form, which consists of questions on the socio-demographic characteristics and ethical sensitivity of the students, Moral Sensitivity Questionnaire, and the observation form on ethical principle violations/protection in the clinic environment. The data were digitized on the computer with the SPSS for Windows 13.0 program. The data were evaluated utilizing number, percentile calculation, paired samples t-test, Wilcoxon test, and the McNemar test.

Results: The total Moral Sensitivity Questionnaire pre-test score averages of students in the experiment group were determined to be 93.88 ± 13.57, and their total post-test score averages were determined to be 89.24 ± 15.90. The total pre-test score averages of students in the control group were determined to be 91.48 ± 17.59, and their total post-test score averages were determined to be 97.72 ± 19.91. In the study, it was determined that the post-training ethical sensitivity of students in the experiment group increased; however, this was statistically not significant. Furthermore, it was determined that the number of ethical principle protection/violation observations and correct examples provided by students in the experiment group were higher than the control group and the difference was statistically significant.

Ethical considerations: Written permission and ethical approval were obtained from the university where the study was conducted. Written consent was received from students accepting to participate in the study.

Conclusion: As a result, ethics education given to students enables them to distinguish ethical violations in a hospital and make a proper observation in this issue.

Keywords: Ethical violations; ethics; ethics training; moral sensitivity; nursing.

MeSH terms

  • Decision Making / ethics*
  • Education, Nursing, Baccalaureate
  • Ethics, Nursing / education*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Moral Development
  • Students, Nursing / psychology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Turkey