Workplace Distress and Ethical Dilemmas in Neuroscience Nursing

Marit Silén; Ping Fen Tang; Barbro Wadensten; Gerd Ahlström


J Neurosci Nurs. 2008;40(4):222-231. 

In This Article


The results of this study show that workplace distress is a major problem for neuroscience nurses. Too great a workload and lack of time were factors that the nurses perceived as hindering high and stable nursing quality. This caused frustration among the nurses, and they felt powerless because they found it difficult to influence their working conditions. Ethical dilemmas mainly concerned decision making about the initiation or withdrawal of treatment. The nurses perceived that they were left out of the decision-making process and that this negatively influenced the care of the patient. When trying to manage the distress, the nurses mainly used coping strategies and sought support from colleagues, and the nurses regretted that there was no regular forum to discuss ethically difficult situations. The findings of this study indicate a high level of concordance with the results from previous studies conducted in different countries (Bucknall & Thomas, 1997; Hildén et al., 2004; Kälvemark et al., 2004; Oberle & Hughes, 2001), and therefore the results may be transferable to neuroscience nurses outside of Sweden and Europe. In light of this study's results, future research should investigate whether such a forum may facilitate the management of distress and the communication and cooperation between professions. It would also be of interest to study the relationship between different coping styles and the nurses' physical, mental, and social health. Finally, to further emphasize the ethical dimension in moral distress, future studies should explore which ethical principles nurses feel are at stake in specific situations.


Comments on Medscape are moderated and should be professional in tone and on topic. You must declare any conflicts of interest related to your comments and responses. Please see our Commenting Guide for further information. We reserve the right to remove posts at our sole discretion.