Understanding and mitigating moral injury in nurses
Intended for healthcare professionals
Evidence and practice    

Understanding and mitigating moral injury in nurses

Sacha Leanne Rowlands Independent nurse, life coach and well-being expert, London, England

Why you should read this article:
  • To learn about the concept of moral injury and how it can be applied in the healthcare sector

  • To enhance your knowledge of the manifestations and risk factors associated with moral injury

  • To enable you to consider the strategies that could be implemented in your area of practice to mitigate and/or prevent moral injury

Moral injury may be experienced when a person perpetrates, witnesses or fails to prevent an act that conflicts with their moral values and beliefs. The concept of moral injury has its origins in the context of military personnel encountering ethically challenging decisions during armed conflict. The term has been applied to healthcare and moral injury is increasingly acknowledged to be a challenge for healthcare professionals. Nurses across all specialties and settings are frequently required to make or witness ethically challenging decisions about patient care. The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has increased nurses’ risk of sustaining moral injury. This article discusses the manifestations of moral injury and its associated risk factors, including the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. It also outlines various strategies that can be used to mitigate and/or prevent moral injury in nurses.

Nursing Standard. doi: 10.7748/ns.2021.e11703

Peer review

This article has been subject to external double-blind peer review and checked for plagiarism using automated software




Conflict of interest

None declared

Rowlands SL (2021) Understanding and mitigating moral injury in nurses. Nursing Standard. doi: 10.7748/ns.2021.e11703

Published online: 22 July 2021

Want to read more?

Already subscribed? Log in


Unlock full access to RCNi Plus today

Save over 50% on your first 3 months

Your subscription package includes:
  • Unlimited online access to all 10 RCNi Journals and their archives
  • Customisable dashboard featuring 200+ topics
  • RCNi Learning featuring 180+ RCN accredited learning modules
  • RCNi Portfolio to build evidence for revalidation
  • Personalised newsletters tailored to your interests
RCN student member? Try Nursing Standard Student

Alternatively, you can purchase access to this article for the next seven days. Buy now