Journal Title

Nursing Education Perspectives

Publication Date



AIM: The three study aims were to assess moral distress among senior baccalaureate nursing students, describe ethical dilemmas contributing to their moral distress in practice settings, and identify reasons for inaction when encountering dilemmas.

BACKGROUND: Previous studies have linked post licensure nurses' moral distress to compassion fatigue, frustration, and turnover. Little is known about this phenomenon in students.

METHOD: This study employed a descriptive cross-sectional survey design to measure moral distress and reasons for not taking action across three academic sites (N = 267). Content analysis was used to identify themes of distressing clinical situations.

RESULTS: Aggregate mean moral distress rating was 3.12. Content analysis revealed compromised best practices, disrespect for human dignity, perceived constraints, and navigating personal values. The most frequent reasons for inaction were subordinate role, relationship preservation, incomplete knowledge, and uncertainty about speaking up.

CONCLUSION: Results help educators prioritize strategies to prevent and manage moral distress among students.


Nursing ethics; Nursing--Study and teaching; Nurse and patient

Publication Information

Archived version is the author's manuscript.

Krautscheid, L., DeMeester, D., Orton, V., Smith, A., Livingston, C., & McLennon, S. (2017). Moral Distress and Associated Factors Among Baccalaureate Nursing Students: A Multisite Descriptive Study. Nursing Education Perspectives, 38 (6), 313-319.

Published version:





Document Type

Journal Article