Moral distress in nursing practice in Malawi

Nursing Ethics 19 (2):196-207 (2012)
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The aim of this study was to explore the existence of moral distress among nurses in Lilongwe District of Malawi. Qualitative research was conducted in selected health institutions of Lilongwe District in Malawi to assess knowledge and causes of moral distress among nurses and coping mechanisms and sources of support that are used by morally distressed nurses. Data were collected from a purposive sample of 20 nurses through in-depth interviews using a semi-structured interview guide. Thematic analysis of qualitative data was used. The results show that nurses, irrespective of age, work experience and tribe, experienced moral distress related to patient/nursing care. The major distressing factors were inadequate resources and lack of respect from patients, guardians, peers and bosses. Nurses desire teamwork and ethics committees in their health institutions as a means of controlling and preventing moral distress. There is a need for creation of awareness for nurses to recognize and manage moral distress, thus optimizing their ability to provide quality and uncompromised nursing care

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Judith Andre
Michigan State University


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