Nurses are frequently portrayed in the literature as being silent about ethical concerns that arise in their practice. This silence is often represented as a lack of voice. However, in our study, we found that nurses who responded to questions about moral distress were not so much silent as silenced. These nurses were enacting their moral agency by engaging in diverse, multiple and time-consuming actions in response to situations identified as morally distressing with families, colleagues, physicians, educators or managers. In many situations, they took action by contacting other healthcare team members, making referrals and coordinating care with other departments such as home care and hospice, as well as initiating contact with groups such as professional regulatory bodies or unions. Examining the relationship between ethical climate, moral distress and voice offers insights into both the meaning and impact of being silenced in the workplace.
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