Moral distress is defined as “arising when one knows the right thing to do but institutional constraints prevent one from taking the right action” (Jameton, 1984). This phenomenon has been explored in the contemporary literature and identifies significant impacts for health practitioners, patients, and health professions. Case study methodology will be engaged to explore moral distress in the context of the multidisciplinary team providing care to patients at the end of life. This context is one in which there are many decision-making points, and current literature shows that it is an area of moral distress, often arising from the performance of unnecessary tests and treatments to patients and the conflict between family and health practitioners. The themes emerging from the literature reviewed 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. There has been little research to date on moral distress in the Australian health system and in the context of the multidisciplinary team. The outcomes of this research intend to highlight the gaps in identifying how moral distress is experienced within the multidisciplinary teams working within the Australian health-care system and caring for patients at the end-of-life phase.
IIQM Qualitative Methods Conference 2016, Glasgow, United Kingdom 3-5 May 2016
International Journal of Qualitative Methods / Vol. 15, No. 1, pp.6