Understanding how patient’s personal value systems challenge nurses’ views when providing care

Mary Jo Stanley


Background: Personal conflict as a result of differences in value systems may be a moral challenge faced by nurses when caring for individuals with different cultures and beliefs than their own and is an area of limited study. As nurses care for patients with diverse backgrounds, it is inevitable that there may be differences in values and that these moral conflicts could be distressing. This type of moral distress can cause nurse’s personal conflict as their values and beliefs may not match those of their patients.

Methods: Moustakas (1994) phenomenological approach was used to elicit meaning from nurse’s stories regarding morally challenging situations. Ten nurses were solicited, but only two wrote about their experiences; one worked in a busy emergency department and the other in a rural community setting.

Results: Four themes were identified: differences, moral code, weight of the transgression, and internal resolution. Value system conflict was the emergent constituent when nurses shared their stories of caring for patients with different values and beliefs than their own.

Conclusions: Nurses may be challenged to care for patients who have different cultural practices than themselves. Value system conflicts may cause strife for nurses who have different beliefs than the patients they care for. Interventions that support strategies to mitigate moral distress such as simulation could be included in future research. Use of simulation as a mechanism for training can assist nurses to work through morally challenging situations.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5430/jnep.v8n9p68

Journal of Nursing Education and Practice

ISSN 1925-4040 (Print)   ISSN 1925-4059 (Online)

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