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Ethical dilemmas and moral distress in oncology nursing practice. Clin J Oncol Nurs 2006 Dec;10(6):775-80



Pubmed ID




Scopus ID

2-s2.0-38349009786   64 Citations


Although ethical values and principles guide oncology nursing practice, nurses often are challenged to fulfill every professional core duty and responsibility in their everyday practice. Nurses commonly encounter clinical situations that have ethical conflicts, and they often have difficulty recognizing and articulating them. Unresolved conflicts can cause feelings of frustration and powerlessness, which can lead to compromises in patient care, job dissatisfaction, disagreements among those in the healthcare team, and burnout. This article reviews the ethical principles and values individual nurses bring to their practice as well as those basic to the profession of nursing. This article also discusses ethical conflicts in oncology practice and describes how nurses, especially students and novice nurses, may react to such situations with moral uncertainty or distress. In addition, a process for analyzing and resolving ethical problems in clinical situations is outlined. Increasing awareness and dialogue about ethical issues is an important first step in the process. Additional resources in the clinical setting may encourage nurses to actively participate in ethical decision making and take deliberate action as moral agents.

Author List

Cohen JS, Erickson JM


Jeanne M. Erickson PhD, RN Associate Professor in the College of Nursing department at University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee

MESH terms used to index this publication - Major topics in bold

Adaptation, Psychological
Attitude of Health Personnel
Burnout, Professional
Codes of Ethics
Decision Making
Dissent and Disputes
Ethics Committees
Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
Interprofessional Relations
Nurse's Role
Oncology Nursing
Principle-Based Ethics
Problem Solving
Professional Competence
Self Efficacy
Social Values