Long-term care nurses’ moral convictions



Moral certainty and uncertainty have a profound impact on nurses’ ethical choices In order to describe these concepts, the author examined long-term care nurses’ convictions about the issue of withholding or withdrawing artificial nutrition and hydration from elders A convenience sample of 25 BSN and MSN-prepared long-term care nurses were interviewed and asked to describe their experiences with this issue A qualitative analysis utilizing Colaizzi's (1978) methodology was performed Five categories of conviction emerged from the data These five categories included absolute moral conviction, strong moral conviction, moderate moral conviction, moral uncertainty with conviction and moral uncertainty Eighty-four per cent of the sample was convinced that tube feeding was not always in the resident's best interest Sixteen per cent of the sample were uncertain, but were convinced that the resident should not suffer A pattern emerged from the interview results and the answers to three additional questions The pattern suggests that the more experience a nurse has with nontreatment the more likely she or he is to agree with it In this paper, the five categories of conviction are compared and contrasted, the pattern of conviction described, and the implications of the findings for nursing discussed