Influencers of Ethical Beliefs and the Impact on Moral Distress and Conscientious Objection

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Considering a growing nurse shortage and the need for qualified nurses to handle increasingly complex patient care situations, how ethical beliefs are influenced and the consequences that can occur when moral conflicts of right and wrong arise need to be explored. The aim of this study was to explore influencers identified by nurses as having the most impact on the development of their ethical beliefs and whether these influencers might impact levels of moral distress and the potential for conscientious objection. Nurses whose ethical beliefs were most influenced by their religious beliefs scored higher in levels of moral distress and demonstrated greater differences in areas of conscientious objection than did nurses who developed their ethical beliefs from influencers such as family values, life and work experience, political views or the professional code of ethics.