Professional nurses' level of moral reasoning and attitudes toward mental illness



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Advances in technology and medical science have radically influenced the delivery of health care. These changes present ethical-moral dilemmas that affect professional nurses' decision-making processes, the delivery of quality health care, and the nurse-patient relationship. The nursing profession acknowledges the ethical-moral nature of nursing practice and the influence that other factors such as nurses' personal characteristics, value stances, beliefs, and attitudes may have on patient care (Davis & Aroskar, 1983; Cohen & Struening, 1962). However, inquiry into the development of moral thought, facilitating moral reasoning potential, and factors that influence nurses' decision-making skills have received limited attention in nursing research (Berkowitz, 1982; Noffsinger, 1979). The specific problem addressed in this study was: "What is the relationship between the level of moral reasoning and attitudes toward mental illness for psychiatric nurses and medical nurses?" The purpose of the study was to identify nurses' levels of moral reasoning and their attitudes toward mental illness. Differences between psychiatric and medical nurses in relation to moral reasoning and attitudes were also investigated. Four hypotheses were tested in the study. A survey method was used to collect data in this study. A non-random sample of registered nurses employed in psychiatric and medical hospital clinical units was obtained. Two self-administered instruments and an investigator-developed demographic information form were used. The Defining Issues Test (DIT) developed by Rest (1975) was used to determine levels of moral reasoning. The Opinions About Mental Illness (OMI) five factor scale developed by Cohen and Struening (1962) was used to assess attitudes toward mental illness. The study sample was comprised of 43 subjects. This represented 22 psychiatric nurses and 21 medical nurses. A major limitation of the study was the small study sample. [...]



Nurses--Attitudes, Nurse and patient--Psychological aspects, Mental illness--Care--Psychological aspects