41 e-Letters

published between 2018 and 2021

  • The value of accepting good with bad in moral distress: a response to Benjamin Hickox

    We agree that conceptual clarity is of great value. Furthermore we acknowledge that some ‘distress’ experienced by our clinicians was not of a moral nature – such as the distress that results from tragic circumstances. We believe that in practice, distress and moral distress overlap. It can be difficult for clinicians to isolate the precise aetiology of their distress. We have furthermore acknowledged that these factors mean that the frequency of ‘moral distress’ may be overestimated in this study. However we are unclear why the ‘distress’ experienced by our clinicians is better labelled as ‘moral stress’. We maintain that conceptual clarity must be of clinical significance and be meaningful to those experiencing it. The clinicians participating were not uncomfortable with the idea that good things could arise from ‘distressing’ situations. It seems a disservice to the healthcare professionals in our study experiencing it to relabel it as ‘stress’ rather than ‘distress’ for the purpose of a less unsettling conclusion. We assume that Mr Hickox remains sceptical that moral distress, as strictly defined (that is, where a clinician feels anguish due to being constrained from acting in accordance with his/her moral judgement), may have some positive attributes. We will outline why we believe that in addition to decreasing moral distress and it’s negative consequences, we – and...

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