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The Experience of Moral Distress in Psychiatric Nurses

Lambour, Stacey
Thesis/Dissertation; Online
Lambour, Stacey
Barbero, Edie
Background: Moral distress has been studied in critical care nurses and has shown to have deleterious effects on nurses’ physical and psychological well-being. To date, little research has been conducted on the experience of moral distress in Psychiatric Mental Health Nurses (PMHNs). Purpose: The purpose of this research is to describe the experience of moral distress in PMHNs. Method: The study utilized a descriptive cross-sectional electronic survey design to collect demographic data and responses to the Moral Distress Scale for Psychiatric Nurses (MDS-P) in a sample of PMHNs (n=28) drawn from a professional community psychiatric nursing organization in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Results: Moral distress scores for this sample were low to moderate with a mean score of 1.50 (SD=1.31). The lowest score mean score of 0.54 (SD=1.20) was reported for one question related to being honest with the patient. The highest mean score was 3.36 (SD =2.45) was reported for questions related to nurses being treated like a machine. A statistically significant difference (p < 0.05) was found between those who had not considered leaving (total mean MDS-P score of 0.83) and those who left (total mean MDS-P score of 3.03). Conclusion: This study found low to moderate levels of moral distress in PMHNs in the Commonwealth of Virginia. The results from this sample support other research findings indicating a relationship between moral distress and the intent to leave.
University of Virginia, School of Nursing, DNP, 2016
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