Reasons to redefine moral distress: a Feminist empirical bioethics analysis

Georgina Morley*, Caroline Bradbury-Jones, Jonathan Ives

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
179 Downloads (Pure)


There has been increasing debate in recent years about the conceptualization of moral distress. Broadly speaking, two groups of scholars have emerged: those who agree with Jameton’s ‘narrow definition’ that focuses on constraint and those who argue that Jameton’s definition is insufficient and needs to be broadened. Using feminist empirical bioethics, we interviewed critical care nurses in the United Kingdom about their experiences and conceptualizations of moral distress. We provide our broader definition of moral distress and examples of data that both challenge and support our conceptualization. We pre-empt and overcome three key challenges that could be levelled at our account and argue that there are good reasons to adopt our broader definition of moral distress when exploring prevalence of, and management strategies for, moral distress.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-11
Publication statusPublished - 12 Jul 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was made possible by a Society and Ethics Fellowship for Healthcare

Funding Information:
Professionals from the Wellcome Trust (Grant ref.: 108640/Z/15/Z).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 The Authors. Bioethics published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd

Copyright 2020 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • clinical ethics
  • clinical practice
  • empirical bioethics
  • feminist ethics
  • moral distress
  • nursing ethics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Philosophy
  • Health Policy


Dive into the research topics of 'Reasons to redefine moral distress: a Feminist empirical bioethics analysis'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this