Moral distress is defined as “arising when one knows the right thing to do but institutional constraints prevent one from taking the right action”. This phenomenon has been explored in the literature and identifies significant impacts for health practitioners, patients and organisations. What has not been explored is how moral distress is experienced in multidisciplinary teams (MDT's). This research is a PhD study. Case study methodology has been engaged to explore moral distress in three MDT's providing end-of-life care. This context is one in which there are many decision making points and is an area in which moral distress is experienced both frequently and intensely. Moral distress often arises from the performance of unnecessary tests and treatments to patients and from the conflict between family and health practitioners. The themes emerging from the literature included the effects of moral distress on practitioners, patients and the professions. Health practitioners suffered physical and psychological symptoms and disengagement. Patients suffered as practitioners disengaged and lacked care and compassion. The profession suffered as practitioners left the professions or sought out positions with less patient contact. This presentation will include the preliminary findings from this esearch. The outcome of this research intends to highlight the gaps in identifying how moral distress is experienced within the MDT's caring for patients at the end-of-life.
13th Palliative Care Conference: Fit for the future, Melbourne, Australia 1-4 September 2015