The Science Journal of the American Association for Respiratory Care

2012 OPEN FORUM Abstracts


Kimberly Clark1, Matthew Bolinsky2; 1Health & Public Services, Catawba Valley Community College, Hickory, NC; 2Cardiopulmonary Services, CaroMont Health, Gaston, NC

BACKGROUND: Respiratory therapists (RTs) are often faced with many challenges that bring elements of moral distress. Moral distress may be caused by situations that place RTs in conflict with fulfilling their moral obligation to their patients, which may include end-of-life care, policy constraints, and organizational ethics. The purpose of this research was to examine the factors associated with moral distress among RTs and if a relationship existed between factors of moral distress and job dissatisfaction and job attrition. METHODS: Moral distress among RTs was assessed using a moral distress survey instrument consisting of 28 items on a 5-point rating scale (1 = never to 5 = always). Additional items were included to obtain information regarding participant demographics, job dissatisfaction, and job attrition. The survey instrument was administered through a web-based survey tool to RTs with an available email address currently working in a healthcare setting. Participation in the study was voluntary. Data were analyzed using descriptive and multivariate statistical methods. RESULTS: A total of 504 RTs participated in the study. An exploratory factor analysis was conducted on 200 randomly selected cases from the total number of participants. The results revealed a four factor theoretical model: “Individual Responsibility,” Not in Patient’s Best Interest,” “Deception,” and “Work Environment.” The table below illustrates the means, standard deviations, and internal consistency for the four factors. Regression analysis revealed that work environment (inadequate staffing and staff development) was a significant predictor in job dissatisfaction, R2 = .22, adjusted R2 = .18, F(10,188) = 5.20, p < .001. Further analysis revealed that work environment was a significant predictor of job attrition related to dissatisfaction, χ2 (10, N = 199) = 19.58, p = .03, while deception and age groups 20-29 and 30-39 were significant predictors of job attrition related to stress, χ2 (10, N = 199) = 27.55, p = 002. CONCLUSION: Respiratory therapists in this study reported experiencing varying degrees of moral distress, which may be associated with job dissatisfaction and an increased likelihood of leaving their jobs due factors associated with moral distress. Sponsored Research - None Means, Standard Deviations, and Internal Consistency for Moral Distress Four Factors (N=199)