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Moral Injury in Healthcare Professions



Eldo E. Frezza, The Moral Distress Syndrome Affecting Physicians: How Current Healthcare is Putting Doctors and Patients at Risk

An exploration of ‘moral distress syndrome,’ a cognate to Moral Injury in the healthcare setting; Frezza argues for the caregivers’ own other-directed empathy as a key to both identifying Moral Injury in themselves and others, and as a cornerstone of recognising the societal elements of healthcare Moral Injury.

Cynda Hylton Rushton, Moral Resilience: Transforming Moral Suffering in Healthcare

A work that understands moral suffering by drawing close parallels with Buddhist understandings of suffering as an unavoidable part of caregiving. It offers ideas around sustainable moral practices and aligned values and language as ways to bring stability to the moral core of healthcare workers.


Press Articles

Mariam Alexander, “NHS Staff are suffering from ‘moral injury’, a distress usually associated with war zonesThe Guardian, 21 April 2021

While this is an editorial piece in the Guardian, its author is a psychiatrist who notes the way that, during the COVID-19 pandemic, the language of the healthcare setting became increasingly militarised, and NHS workers also began to show clear signs of Moral Injury – in the sense of systemic betrayal, not having the resources to make proper moral decisions and facing high-stakes situations day after day.


Journal Articles

Lorna French et al., “’If I die, they do not care’:  U.K. National Health Service staff experiences of betrayal-based moral injury during COVID-19Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy 14(3) (2022) pp. 516-521

A study of NHS workers that found that many of the cases of what is commonly referred to as ‘burnout’ contained a moral component and identified betrayal-based Moral Injury in this setting. Its authors argue for attention to these wounds as Moral Injury in order to facilitate healing or risk a long-term lack of trust and fractured relationship with the organisation.