Moral mindfulness: The ethical concerns of healthcare professionals working in a psychiatric intensive care unit [2018]

Healthcare professionals working on inpatient wards face the externalizing or challenging behaviour of the patients who are admitted. Ethical values and principles in psychiatric nursing have been reported to be important when approaching patients during the most acute phase of deterioration in their mental health. Hence, the aim of this study was to discover and describe staff members’ ethical and moral concerns about their work as healthcare professionals in a psychiatric intensive care unit. The study has a qualitative descriptive design and makes use of Framework Analysis. Registered nurses and psychiatric aides in a psychiatric intensive care unit in Sweden were observed during ethical reflection meetings. Four to six staff attended the 90‐min meetings. The data comprise observations from six meetings, which provided 94 pages of text. The results demonstrate that the work was described as being both motivating and exhausting. The staff faced ethical concerns in their daily work, as patients often demonstrated challenging behaviours. Three themes were identified as follows: (i) concerns about the staff impacting on patients’ experience of care, (ii) concerns about establishing a safe working environment, and (iii) concerns about becoming unprofessional due to expectations and a high workload. Ethical concerns included simultaneously taking into account both the patients’ dignity and safety aspects, while also being exposed to high workloads. These elements of work are theorized as influencing complex psychiatric nursing. If we are to bring these influential factors to light in the workplace, advanced nursing practice must be grounded in moral mindfulness.

Martin Salzmann‐Erikson RN, PhD.

International Journal of Mental Health Nursing, 22 June 2018