Culture and Moral Distress: What's the Connection and Why Does It Matter?
AMA Journal of Ethics, June 2017
Culture is learned behavior shared among members of a group and from generation to generation within that group. In health care work, references to "culture" may also function as code for ethical uncertainty or moral distress concerning patients, families, or populations. This paper analyzes how culture can be a factor in patient-care situations that produce moral distress. It discusses three common, problematic situations in which assumptions about culture may mask more complex problems concerning family dynamics, structural barriers to health care access, or implicit bias. We offer sets of practical recommendations to encourage learning, critical thinking, and professional reflection among students, clinicians, and clinical educators.
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