Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Science in Nursing

Degree Level





Dunbar, Diana

Committee Member/Reader

Simpkins-Spain, Kristina


Moral distress is a pressing concern in the healthcare field with significant implications for all areas of nursing and patient outcomes. However, those within the specialty of critical care nursing experience moral distress more frequently than those in other specialties. It arises from the complex ethical dilemmas nurses in critical intensive care units face as they work in these high-pressure environments. The purpose of this literature review is to discuss moral distress in critical care nursing and how it affects a nurse’s ability to provide quality care. Furthermore, this review will determine factors contributing to moral distress and potential interventions for prevention strategies to promote moral resilience. Peer-reviewed articles and studies focusing on moral distress within critical care nurses were evaluated, resulting in fifteen articles utilized in this review. Findings included a web of factors contributing to moral distress, including futile invasive treatments and lack of organizational support. It was also found that moral distress can lead to a significant decrease in the ability of the nurse to provide quality care to patients. Further research is needed to understand moral distress and proper interventions better, as it is a relatively new topic of discussion.


critical care nursing, nursing, intensive care unit, moral distress, moral stress