Moral Suffering

Moral Suffering


Introduction for Nursing Diagnosis

Moral Suffering is defined as a pain, anguish, or distress caused by a conflict between feelings and a sense of obligation or responsibility. This condition can manifest itself in both physical and emotional symptoms, and it can be triggered by moral situations in social, cultural, or religious settings.

Nursing Diagnosis Definition

Moral suffering is defined by NANDA International, the world’s largest organization devoted to nursing diagnosis, as “an emotional or spiritual pain related to an internal conflict between one's beliefs or values and one's actions.”

Defining Characteristics (Subjectives)

  • Negative emotions such as guilt, anger, or despair
  • Sense of moral conflict
  • Feelings of powerlessness
  • Decreased self-worth or feelings of worthlessness

Defining Characteristics (Objectives)

  • Changes in behavior
  • Verbalizations of experiences
  • Physical signs of distress such as rapid breathing or increased heart rate
  • Increased anxiety levels

Related Factors

  • TransValue Discrepancy: Discrepancy between the patient’s own interpretation of an event or experience and the standards of the individual’s culture or religion
  • Moral Confusion: Lack of clear guidelines or uncertainty about what constitutes a moral action
  • Cultural Norms: Social expectations set by cultural rules or standards that are enforced upon individuals within a particular society

Risk Population

Moralsuffering can affect anyone, however, people who do not have access to resources such as education, psychological assistance or financial stability are more likely to experience this condition due to the lack of support they may receive.

Associated Problems

  • Chronic stress
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Eating Disorders
  • Poor Self-Care
  • Suicidal ideation
  • Substance Abuse

Suggestions of Use

Nursing interventions for moral suffering should focus on helping the patient to become aware of their morality, identify their own values, recognize their moral dilemmas, explore possible solutions and ultimately, make an informed decision.

Suggested Alternative Nursing Diagnosis

  • Powerlessness: Feeling of being unable to control life situations
  • Noncompliance with Therapeutic Regimen: Failure to act according to medical orders
  • Ineffective Coping: Inability to overcome situations or manage them in a healthy way
  • Spiritual Distress: Conflict between individual belief systems and daily living

Usage Tips

  • Explore the patient’s belief system, culture and life experiences.
  • Engage in a non-judgmental discussion to allow the patient to express their feelings and thoughts.
  • Listen and validate the patient’s feelings and provide a space for self-reflection.
  • Help the patient build a bridge between conflicting values and behaviors by exploring alternative solutions.
  • Encourage self-care activities that address the physical and emotional dimensions of moral suffering.

NOC Results

  • Decision Making: Ability to make choices among alternatives that promote health or well-being.
  • Coping: Response to stressful circumstances to minimize impact and adverse effects.
  • Hope: Belief in oneself and a strength to carry on despite difficulty.
  • Spiritual Well-Being: Development and maintenance of meaningful values and beliefs.

NIC Interventions

  • Spiritual Support: Enhancing connections to significant persons, beliefs, and values.
  • Counseling: Provision of services aimed at resolving conflicts, fears, and potential losses.
  • Stress Management Training: Learning methods of relaxation and pain control to reduce feelings of distress.
  • Supportive Listening: Creating a healing environment through active listening, reflecting, and summarizing.


Moral Suffering is a serious condition that can lead to physical and psychological distress. It is important for nurses to recognize the signs of moral suffering and to be prepared to provide the necessary counseling, spiritual support, and stress management needed to help patients address and overcome this condition.


  • How can I help someone who is suffering from moral suffering? Asking questions and engaging in non-judgmental discussions can help the patient to become aware of their inner conflict and explore possible solutions. It is also important to provide emotional support and encourage self-care activities.
  • What are some common signs of moral suffering? Some common signs of moral suffering include negative emotions such as guilt, anger, or despair, sense of moral conflict, decreased self-worth, changes in behavior, verbalizations of experiences, physical signs of distress, and increased anxiety levels.
  • What are some associated risks of moral suffering? Some associated risks of moral suffering include chronic stress, depression, anxiety, eating disorders, poor self-care, suicidal ideation, and substance abuse.

Isabella White

Hello to all nursing enthusiasts! I'm Isabella White and I'm thrilled to welcome you to this space dedicated to the exciting world of nursing. Let me share a little about myself and what we can expect together on this journey. About Me: Nursing is more than just a profession to me, it's a calling. When I'm not caring for my patients or learning more about health and wellness, you'll find me enjoying the great outdoors, exploring new trails in nature, or savoring a good cup of coffee with close friends. I believe in the balance between caring for others and self-care, and I'm here to share that philosophy with you. My Commitment to You: In this space, I commit to being your reliable guide in the world of nursing. Together, we'll explore health topics, share practical tips, and support each other on our journeys to wellness. But we'll also celebrate life beyond the hospital walls, finding moments of joy in the everyday and seeking adventures that inspire us to live fully. In summary, this is a place where nursing meets life, where we'll find support, inspiration, and hopefully a little fun along the way. Thank you for joining me on this exciting journey. Welcome to a world of care, knowledge, and connection! Sincerely, Isabella White

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