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Safety 2019, 5(1), 10;

Moral Distress and Resilience in the Occupational Therapy Workplace

Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine, Department of Occupational Therapy, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB T6G 2G4, Canada
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 7 January 2019 / Revised: 31 January 2019 / Accepted: 2 February 2019 / Published: 7 February 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Occupational Health and Safety New Challenges for Industry)
PDF [218 KB, uploaded 26 February 2019]


Healthcare professionals are inherently vulnerable to moral distress due to their frequent work with persons who are suffering or in crisis, in combination with the strong empathic orientation that underpins the very act of care giving. When accompanied by high workloads, deficiencies in management practices such as low recognition, lack of work autonomy, and/or insufficient opportunity for growth and development, persons in caring professions are at an even higher risk of moral distress. There is evidence that professional resilience is effective in mitigating workplace stress. Successful individual-management of moral distress requires attention to the broader institutional conditions under which these difficulties arise. This paper presents findings from 79 occupational therapists in Alberta and Saskatchewan, Canada, who participated in a survey of moral distress and resilience. On a standardized measure of resiliency their scores fell at the lower end of normal. On a standardized measure of moral distress, the highest levels involved issues of: time to do the job properly, deteriorated quality of care, insensitive co-workers, and unrealistic expectations from others. Nearly 50% reported that they had considered leaving a position due to moral distress. The survey was carried out with the goal of developing a teaching module that included education about moral distress and recommendations for the enhancement of both individual resilience and the construction of resiliency-promoting work environments. View Full-Text
Keywords: moral distress; workplace safety; patient safety; resiliency; occupational therapy; healthcare provider moral distress; workplace safety; patient safety; resiliency; occupational therapy; healthcare provider
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).

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Rivard, A.M.; Brown, C.A. Moral Distress and Resilience in the Occupational Therapy Workplace. Safety 2019, 5, 10.

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