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Nurs Ethics. 2004;11(3):266-76.

Nurses' voices: policy, practice and ethics.

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  • 1University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN, USA. aroskarm@mindspring.com


This article deals with nurses' ethical concerns raised by the consequences of changes in governmental and institutional policies on nursing practice and patient care. The aims of this project were to explore perspectives of registered nurses who provide or manage direct patient care on policies that affect nursing and patient care, and to provide input to policy makers for the development of more patient-centred policies. Four focus groups were conducted with a total of 36 registered nurse participants. The project team identified major themes that emerged in the analysis of transcripts of the focus group discussions. The four major themes were: effects of policy focused on cost containment, effects on quality of care, effects on patient education and access to needed services, and effects on nurses and nursing. The participants identified primarily negative effects of changes in national health policy and legislation that influence institutional policies on patient care and nursing practice. The effects of identified policy changes raised concerns about meeting nurses' ethical obligations to patients and families. Participants specified key points for consideration by legislators and other policy makers. They viewed nurses who are involved in direct patient care as a critical resource for legislators and other policy makers in the development of public and institutional policies that affect nursing and patient care.

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