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Pediatric Critical Care Professionals Experiencing Moral Distress

Last Updated: November 01, 2021.

MONDAY, Nov. 1, 2021 (HealthDay News) -- Pediatric critical care professionals are experiencing moral distress during the COVID-19 pandemic, but they have also shown attributes of moral resilience, according to a study published online Nov. 1 in the American Journal of Critical Care.

Tessy A. Thomas, D.O., from Geisinger Medical Center in Danville, Pennsylvania, and colleagues surveyed pediatric critical care professionals using the Pediatric Acute Lung Injury and Sepsis Investigators Network from April to May 2020 to examine experiences of moral distress during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The researchers found that moral distress was reported by 85.8 percent of survey respondents. Higher degrees of moral distress were reported by nurses versus other professional groups. Moral distress was induced in relation to challenges to professional integrity and lack of organizational support. The investigators identified the following five themes from the data: psychological safety, expectations of leadership, connectedness through a moral community, professional identity challenges, and professional versus social responsibility. Overall, 76.0 and 78.9 percent of respondents, respectively, were confident in their ability to reason through ethical dilemmas and think clearly when confronting an ethical challenge, even under pressure.

"Lessons learned may yield increased attention to the need for organizational support, structure, and action to develop strategies not only to prevent and mitigate moral distress but also to sustain organizational, team, and individual moral resilience during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond," the authors write.

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