Date of Award

Spring 5-16-2015

Degree Type


Degree Name

PhD Nursing




Pamela Galehouse, Ph.D

Committee Member

Marie Foley, Ph.D

Committee Member

Garrett Chan, Ph.D


Emergency Nursing, Moral Distress, Coping


Background: Emergency Department (ED) nurses practice in environments that are highly charged and unpredictable in nature and can precipitate conflict between the necessary prescribed actions and the individual’s sense of what is morally the right thing to do. As a consequence of multiple moral dilemmas ED staff nurses are at risk for experiencing distress and how they cope with these challenges may impact their practice.

Objectives: Is to examine moral distress in ED nurses and its relationship to coping in that specialty group.

Methods: Using survey methods approach. One hundred ninety eight ED nurses completed a moral distress, coping and demographic collection instruments. Advanced statistical analysis was completed to look at relationships between the variables.

Results: Data analysis did show that moral distress is present in ED nurses (M=80.19, SD=53.27) and when separated into age groups the greater the age the less the experience of moral distress. A positive relationship between moral distress and some coping mechanisms and the ED environment were also noted.

Conclusion: This study’s findings suggest that ED nurses experience moral distress and could receive some benefit from utilization of appropriate coping skills. This study also suggests that the environment with which ED nurses practice has a significant impact on the experience of moral distress. Since health care is continuing to evolve it is critical that issues like moral distress and coping be studied in ED nurses to help eliminate human suffering.

Included in

Other Nursing Commons