Bruneian nurses’ perceptions of ethical dimensions in nursing practice
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Background: There has been wide interest shown in the manner in which ethical dimensions in nursing practice are approached and addressed. As a result a number of ethical decision making models have been developed to tackle these problems. However, in this thesis it has been argued that the ethical dimensions of nursing practice are still not clearly understood and responded in Brunei. Design and method: This thesis describes a qualitative analysis into the Bruneian nurses’ perceptions of ethical dimensions in nursing practice. Drawing on constructivist grounded theory as a method of inquiry, twenty eight practicing and administrative nurses were individually interviewed. The nurses described how ethical dimensions were perceived in their practice, by means of the difficulties they are facing in the real world of nursing practice; how they have responded to these difficulties, and why they make such responses. Findings: The nurses described three ethical dimensions in their practice, namely ‘nurse at work’ which illustrates the ethical dimensions within the work environment; ‘nurse and doctor’ that elucidates the ethical dimensions in the nurse and doctor relationship and ‘nurse and patient’ which further examines ethical aspects in patient care. ‘Taking responsibility’ and ‘shifting responsibility to others’ were identified as approaches that the nurses took in responding to the ethical dimensions with the aim of avoiding the conflict and maintaining ward harmony. These responses provide new insights into how nurses’ response to ethical dimension in the ward settings where it puts strong emphasis on the nurses’ understanding of responsibility placed upon them as a professional nurse. ‘Negotiating ethical responsibility’ emerged as a core category within the data which illustrate that nurses’ responses to the ethical dimensions form a continuous process, involving constant consideration of the two types of responses. The core category described that ethical dimensions in the nurses’ practice were contextualised in the ‘ethical responsibility’ that is placed upon them within the nursing organisation. This thesis has expanded the current theoretical knowledge of ethical dimensions by elaborating on the concerns experienced in nursing practice and the responses individual nurses utilise to negotiate and discharge their ethical responsibilities at work. The study has also extended emphasis to the reasoning and responses that nurses are engaged in, whilst at the same time, negotiating ethical responsibility regarding the context in which they are placed during their working hours. This core category provides a number of possible implications for future research, nursing practice, education and policy, which would facilitate the exploration of ethical understanding for nurses in Brunei, and enable the provision of an ethical environment, so making ethical dimensions more transparent.