Interprofessionals’ definitions of moral resilience

Heidi Holtz, Katherine Heinze, Cynthia H Rushton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Aims and objectives: To describe common characteristics and themes of the concept of moral resilience as reported by interprofessional clinicians in health care. Background: Research has provided an abundance of data on moral distress with limited research to resolve and help negate the detrimental effects of moral distress. This reveals a critical need for research on how to mitigate the negative consequences of moral distress that plague nurses and other healthcare providers. One promising direction is to build resilience as an individual strategy concurrently with interventions to build a culture of ethical practice. Design/methods: Qualitative descriptive methods were used to analyse descriptive definitions provided by 184 interprofessional clinicians in health care attending educational programmes in various locations as well as a small group of 23 professionals with backgrounds such as chaplaincy and nonhealthcare providers. Results: Three primary themes and three subthemes emerged from the data. The primary themes are integrity—personal and relational, and buoyancy. The subthemes are self-regulation, self-stewardship and moral efficacy. Conclusions: Individual healthcare providers and healthcare systems can use this research to help negate the detrimental effects of moral distress by finding ways to develop interventions to cultivate moral resilience. Relevance to clinical practice: Moral resilience involves not only building and fostering the individual's capacity to navigate moral adversity but also developing systems that support a culture of ethical practice for healthcare providers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)e488-e494
JournalJournal of Clinical Nursing
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - Feb 1 2018


  • ethics
  • healthcare providers
  • moral distress
  • moral resilience

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nursing(all)


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