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Moral Distress, Workplace Health, and Intrinsic Harm

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Moral distress is now being recognized as a frequent experience for many health care providers, and there's good evidence that it has a negative impact on the health care work environment. However, contemporary discussions of moral distress have several problems. First, they tend to rely on inadequate characterizations of moral distress. As a result, subsequent investigations regarding the frequency and consequences of moral distress often proceed without a clear understanding of the phenomenon being discussed, and thereby risk substantially misrepresenting the nature, frequency, and possible consequences of moral distress. These discussions also minimize the intrinsically harmful aspects of moral distress. This is a serious omission. Moral distress doesn't just have a negative impact on the health care work environment; it also directly harms the one who experiences it.
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Keywords: Harm; Health Care Ethics; Integrity; Intrinsic Harm; Moral Conflict; Moral Distress

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: May 1, 2016

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