AJOB Empirical Bioethics | VOL. ahead-of-print
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Addressing Moral Distress: lessons Learnt from a Non-Interventional Longitudinal Study on Moral Distress

Publication Date Jul 11, 2022

Abstract

Background Moral distress is prevalent within the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) and can negatively affect clinicians. Studies have evaluated the causes of moral distress and interventions to mitigate its harmful effects. However, the effects of participating in moral distress studies have not been evaluated. Objective To evaluate the impact of participation in a longitudinal, non-intervention research project on moral distress in the NICU. Design Clinicians who previously participated in an 18-month longitudinal research study on moral distress at two NICUs were invited to complete a questionnaire on the impact of participation. The original study required regular completion of surveys that sought predictions of death, disability and the intensity/nature of moral distress experienced by clinicians caring for extremely preterm babies. Individual and unit-wide effects were explored. Free-text responses to open-ended questions were analyzed using inductive content analysis. Results A total of 249/463 (53%) eligible clinicians participated. Participation in the original 18-month study was perceived as having a positive impact by 58% of respondents. Clinicians found articulating their views therapeutic (76%) and useful in clarifying personal opinions about the babies (85%). Free-text responses revealed the research stimulated increased reflection, validated feelings and increased dialogue amongst clinicians. Respondents generally did not find participation distressing (70%). However, a small number of physicians fel...

Concepts

Moral Distress Prevalence Of Moral Distress Neonatal Intensive Care Unit Causes Of Moral Distress Influence Patient Care Inductive Content Analysis Intensity Of Moral Distress Free-text Responses Fragile Patients 18-month Study

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