The Moral Distress Model: An Empirically Informed Guide for Moral Distress Interventions

Georgina Morely*, Jonathan C S Ives, Caroline Bradbury-Jones

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)
43 Downloads (Pure)


Aims and Objectives
To explore moral distress empirically and conceptually, to understand the factors that mitigate and exacerbate moral distress and construct a model that represents how moral distress relates to its constituent parts and related concepts.

There is ongoing debate about how to understand and respond to moral distress in nursing practice.

The overarching design was feminist empirical bioethics in which feminist interpretive phenomenology provided the tools for data collection and analysis, reported following the COREQ guidelines. Using reflexive balancing, the empirical data were combined with feminist theory to produce normative recommendations about how to respond to moral distress. The Moral Distress Model presented in this paper is a culmination of the empirical data and theory.

Using feminist interpretive phenomenology, critical care nurses in the United Kingdom (n = 21) were interviewed and data analysed. Reflexive Balancing was used to integrate the data with feminist theory to provide normative recommendations about how to understand moral distress.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1309-1326
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Clinical Nursing
Issue number9-10
Early online date22 Aug 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 22 Aug 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 John Wiley & Sons Ltd


  • Moral distress
  • Nursing
  • Bioethics
  • Clinical ethics
  • Qualitative research
  • Empirical bioethics


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