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  1. Whitehead, Phyllis B. PhD, APRN, ACHPN, PMGT-BC, FNAP
  2. Carter, Kimberly Ferren PhD, RN, NEA-BC
  3. Garber, Jeannie S. DNP, RN, NEA-BC
  4. Epstein, Beth PhD, RN, HEC-C, FAAN


The purpose of this study was to describe the moral distress experiences of nurse managers. Moral distress has been studied among direct patient care providers including nurses and physicians. The moral distress experience among nurse managers is less understood. We conducted a qualitative descriptive study with 19 nurse managers from 5 healthcare institutions in Virginia. Interview data were analyzed using a directed content analysis, as the structural components of the moral distress phenomenon are already known. Participants suffered moral distress when they were unable to achieve or maintain effective unit function and felt caught in the middle between their units' and employees' needs and organizational directives. System-level causes of moral distress are common among nurse managers. Future research should involve measurement of moral distress among nurse managers and exploration of effective interventions.