Moral distress occurs when an individual faces constraints in doing the right thing, which challenges the ability to preserve integrity and can result in adverse outcomes such as burnout, diminished well-being, and poor quality patient care. During a pandemic, these constraints can be greatly increased, with health care staff experiencing greater moral distress.

Thomas and colleagues conducted a survey with staff in a pediatric intensive care unit, including physicians/advanced practice providers, registered nurses, and respiratory therapists, to explore the extent and sources of moral distress during the COVID-19 pandemic. They found

  • Overall, 86% of all participants reported experiencing moral distress, with 52% reporting a moderate amount to a great deal of distress.

  • Nurses had higher degrees of moral distress than did staff in the other disciplines.

  • The primary cause of distress for all was challenges to professional integrity.

  • Most participants stated they felt...

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