Moral distress and perception of futile care in intensive care nurses

  • Fariba Borhani Associate Professor, Medical Ethics and Law Research Center, Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran.
  • Somayeh Mohammadi MSc in Nursing, Shahrekord University of Medical Sciences, Shahrehkord, Ira.
  • Mostafa Roshanzadeh Mentor, Surgical Care Research Centre, Birjand University of Medical Sciences, Birjand, Iran.
Keywords: moral distress, futile care, intensive care unit, nursing ethics


Special characteristics of care environments have always presented nurses with some challenges. One particular situation isfutile care, which is frequently accompanied by countless moral and legal challenges. The dominant atmosphere in futile caremay cause moral distress to nurses and lead to a sense of guilt, pain, suffering, job dissatisfaction, and eventually cause nursesto leave the job. This descriptive-analytical study attempted to investigate the relationship between futile care and moral distressin intensive care nurses. Study subjects were 300 nurses in intensive care units in Kerman, Iran and were selected byconvenience sampling based on inclusion criteria. Study tools included Corley’s 21-item questionnaire on moral distress and aresearcher-made 17-item questionnaire on futile care. Data analysis was performed using SPSS version 16 and suitableanalytical and descriptive tests.The results showed a significantly positive relationship between moral distress and futile care (P = 0.03, r = 0.4). Based on theobtained results, futile care can create conditions that may lead to moral distress in nurses and therefore strategies should be devised to prevent these conditions. Moreover, distress in nurses should be identified by periodical counseling so that it can be managed more efficiently.  
How to Cite
Borhani F, Mohammadi S, Roshanzadeh M. Moral distress and perception of futile care in intensive care nurses. J Med Ethics Hist Med. 8.
Original Article(s)