The relationship between moral reasoning, the relationship dimension of the social climate of the work environment, and perception of realistic moral behavior among registered professional nurses
Dr. Kathleen M. Nokes, PhD, RN, FAAN
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This study investigated the effects of moral reasoning and the work environment on moral behavior of registered professional nurses. One hundred fifty staff nurses employed in one tertiary care facility in Metropolitan New York participated. Twenty-three percent of the nurses were white in comparison of 64% who were black. Sixty-seven percent of the black nurses, in contrast to 11% of the white nurses, were born in a country other than the United States. All participants completed the comprehension section of the Nelson-Denny Reading Test; the Defining Issues Test which measured moral reasoning; the Work Environment Scale to assess the relationship dimension of the work environment; and Judgments About Nursing Decisions which measured moral behaviors related to nursing. There were two study hypotheses: that moral reasoning, independent of reading comprehension, would be positively related to perception of realistic moral behavior; and that the relationship dimension of the social climate would add to the explanation of perception of realistic moral behavior. The first hypothesis was tested using a partial correlation and the second hypothesis was tested through a hierarchical multiple regression. Neither hypothesis was supported. The only demographic variable significantly affecting perception of realistic moral behavior was years in nursing in that nurses who had worked longer in nursing tended to have lower moral behavior scores. A significant relationship was found between moral reasoning and moral behavior while controlling for reading comprehension in the group of white nurses (n = 35, r = 34, p < .02). A significant relationship between supervisor support and moral behavior (r = .32, p < .03) was also found in this group. A statistically significant, though trivial, negative relationship was found between moral reasoning and moral behavior for nurses born outside of the United States (n = 84, r = -.19, p < .04). The main conclusion drawn from this study was that culture and ethnicity seem to affect the relationship between moral reasoning and moral behavior. The significantly lower scores of black nurses, a majority of whom were born outside of the United States, on reading comprehension and moral reasoning point to a possible cultural bias within both moral development theory and the instruments used. This possible implicit theoretical bias needs further exploration.
This dissertation has also been disseminated through the ProQuest Dissertations and Theses database. Dissertation/thesis number: 8510768; ProQuest document ID: 303354374. The author still retains copyright.
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