The lived experiences of clinical nurse managers regarding moral distress

  • Alireza Nikbakht Nasrabadi Professor School of Nursing and Midwifery, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran
  • Mitra Khoobi PhD candidate of Nursing Education Medical-Surgical Group, School of Nursing and Midwifery, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran.
  • Mohammad Ali Cheraghi Professor School of Nursing and Midwifery, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran
  • Soodabeh Joolaei Professor School of Nursing & Midwifery, Nursing Care Research Center, Iran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran.
  • Majid Ahmadi Hedayat MSc Research deputy of Applied Sciences University, Ibn Sina Hospital, Tehran, Iran.
Nurse manager, Lived experience, Moral distress, Desperation syndrome, Psycho-emotional trauma


Ethical management with minimum moral distress is one of the main duties of nurse managers. There is no doubt that a better understanding of the experiences of nurse managers in morally challenging situations could have an effective role in improving health care systems. The present study aimed to investigate the lived experiences of clinical nurse managers regarding moral distress.

This hermeneutic phenomenological qualitative research involved the use of semi-structured interviews with nurse managers. The interviews were transcribed and analyzed by the Diekelman, Allen and Tanner approach. For this purpose, a total of 14 Iranian nurse managers with at least five years of experience in nursing management in hospitals were purposefully selected.

The findings related to nurse managers’ experiences of moral distress contained two main themes (psycho-emotional trauma and professional desperation syndrome) and four sub-themes (shame, emotional dissociation, helplessness, impaired professional identity).

The findings of the study indicated that in order to understand the phenomenon of moral distress among nurse managers, it is essential to investigate the moral distress experienced by them. We also found that although they experience moral distress in their daily decisions repeatedly, they are not fully aware of this phenomenon

According to the results, for clinical nurse managers, moral distress is an ambiguous situation like suspension along with uncertainty, fear and so on. They believed that experiencing this kind of conscious mistake is the reason for the occurrence of professional desperation syndrome and psycho-emotional trauma.


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How to Cite
Nikbakht Nasrabadi A, Khoobi M, Cheraghi MA, Joolaei S, Hedayat MA. The lived experiences of clinical nurse managers regarding moral distress. J Med Ethics Hist Med. 11.
Original Article(s)