Moral distress experienced by care leaders in older adult care: a qualitative study

Fanny Ahokas, Jessica Hemberg*

*Korresponderande författare för detta arbete

Forskningsoutput: TidskriftsbidragArtikelVetenskapligPeer review

5 Citeringar (Scopus)
15 Nedladdningar (Pure)


Background: Many healthcare professionals have left their professions recently because of increased moral distress, and the COVID-19 pandemic has had a further major impact on the ever-changing healthcare environment. Aim: The purpose of the study was to examine care leaders’ experiences of moral distress in their daily work in older adult care. Methodology: A qualitative design was used. The data consisted of texts from interviews with care leaders (N = 8) in an older adult care context. Content analysis was used to analyse the data. Findings: Five themes emerged: (1) moral distress arises from a lack of time, (2) moral distress contributes to a sense of inadequacy but also a sense of responsibility, (3) moral distress arises from an imbalance in values, (4) increased knowledge and open discussion help reduce moral distress and (5) reflection, increased support and increased resources can reduce moral distress. Conclusion: Moral distress is something that care leaders, according to this study, experience daily in an older adult care context and it is considered to have increased. Care leaders can experience moral distress from a lack of time; patient-related, relative-related or other ethically difficult situations or an imbalance between own values and an organisation's, other caregivers’, patients’ and/or patients’ relatives values. Increased staffing resources, more knowledge (training and lectures) and time for reflection individually, in groups or with an outside expert could increase care leaders’ insights into and ability to reduce moral distress. Although situations that are characterised by moral distress are burdensome, care leaders have the opportunity to learn from such situations through reflection and discussion and can develop strategies for future ethical challenges. Future research could focus on exploring caregivers’ experiences of moral distress.

TidskriftScandinavian Journal of Caring Sciences
Tidigt onlinedatum23 jan. 2022
StatusPublicerad - 23 jan. 2022
MoE-publikationstypA1 Tidskriftsartikel-refererad


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