Moral Regret - The Experience of Breaches of a Nursing Ideal
Repository Posting Date2015-11-24T18:55:10Z
Author(s)Wurzbach, Mary Ellen
Author DetailsMary Ellen Wurzbach, R.N., FNP, Ph.D., e-mail: wurzbacm at uwosh dot edu,
Lead Author Sigma AffliationEta Pi
Level of EvidenceQualitative Study, Phenomenology
Research ApproachQualitative Research
Keywordsethical issues; ethics research; ethics, nursing education; ethical decision making; moral distress; Ethics; Ethics, Nursing; Morals; Philosophy, Nursing; Decision Making, Ethical
CINAHL HeadingsDecision Making, Ethical
Recently, Johnstone and Hutchinson (2015) called for abandoning the construct of “moral distress”. For various reasons, they believe that too much attention is paid to it in the nursing literature, that the studies are not sound and that calling for action to relieve moral distress may be a moral imposition in the lives of our patients, families and colleagues.
There is one overriding concern about abandoning the construct of moral distress and that is that the phenomenon exists in the professional and personal lives of nurses despite the terminology. A construct is a manufactured concept with certain properties while the phenomenon of moral distress actually exists, independently of whether anyone studies or examines it. Whether the concept is called moral distress is another matter.
In the author’s research the experience of nurses was that of the concept of moral regret or in a qualitative sense “looking back”. A concept (not a construct) existed independently for many nurses - independently of the organization and of others. The author titled it moral regret or “looking back.” It was a concept that so clearly existed and was experienced by so many nurses personally and professionally that the author made it one of her primary concepts of interest in nursing ethics. The “construct” of moral distress does exist also but little time has been spent studying the ethical aspects of it. This article will examine the ethical antecedents and consequences of the concept the author named moral regret and those that precede the constructs of moral distress and moral discomfort - possibly forms or degrees of ethical dysphoria.