Ethical behavior of nurses in decision-making in Iran

Hossein Ebrahimi, Mansoure Nikravesh, Fatemeh Oskouie, Fazlollah Ahmadi



Background: Ethical caring is an essential in nursing practice. Nurses are confronted with complex situations in which they are expected to autonomously make decisions in delivering good care to patients. Although a wide range of studies have examined ethical behavior of nurses, there are still many issues requiring further investigation. The aim of this article is to describe the ethical behavior of nurses in decision-making in patients’ care in Iran.

Materials and Methods: This study was conducted through grounded theory method. Participants were 17 Iranian nurses, employed in Tabriz University of Medical Sciences hospitals. Unstructured, semi-structured, and in-depth interviews were used for data gathering. Interviews were transcribed and coded according to Strauss and Corbin method in open, axial, and selective coding.

Results: Nurses showed three major approaches in ethical behavior: Beyond the legal duty and protection of the patients, which includes dedication and full availability to nurses’ job and the client, spending time for the patients and delayed exit from the workplace, and arbitrary practice; legal duty and the protection of patients and nurses, which includes caretaking for the patient, responding to the client, and implementing the physician’s prescription; and below the legal duty and the protection of one’s self, that is, finding evidence and having witness in case of false documentation, and shortcoming, negligence, and mistake.

Conclusions: Because of the importance of the ethical behavior of nurses in decision-making, it is necessary to find ways to promote moral reasoning and moral development of nurses. Empowerment of nurses, nurse educators, and nursing students to acquire knowledge and develop ethical behavior skills is important.

Key words: Decision-making, ethics, Iran, nursing, qualitative research

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