Evidence and Practice

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Clinical

Supporting nurse leaders to recognise and mitigate the effects of moral injury

Why you should read this article: • To familiarise yourself with the concept of moral injury • To understand why nurses may be particularly vulnerable to moral injury • To learn about a practical framework and various interventions that can be used to mitigate the effects of moral injury The concept of moral injury has been around for several decades, yet its effect on nurses remains under-recognised. Moral injury is defined as the biopsychosocial harm that arises from a violation of one’s moral code, meaning that a person is powerless to uphold and enact what they believe is morally right. The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has brought the issue of moral injury into focus because many nurses and other healthcare professionals have encountered potentially morally injurious events, resulting in increased pressure and emotional demands. It is essential that nurse leaders recognise moral injury if its effects are to be addressed. This article describes moral injury and its effects on nurses, and offers nurse leaders a practical framework for mitigating this issue. The framework aims to support nurse leaders to increase their understanding of moral injury, address any ethical challenges, ensure they are adequately prepared to provide support to nurses, and enhance their awareness of various interventions that can mitigate moral injury.

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