The hidden ethical element of nursing care rationing

Evridiki Papastavrou, Panayiota Andreou, Stavros Vryonides

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: To explore nurses' experiences and perceptions about prioritizations, omissions, and rationingof bedside nursing care.Methods: A total of 23 nurses participated in four focus groups. The interviews were based on a semistructuredinterview guide; data were analyzed using a thematic analysis approach.Findings: Four themes were developed based on the data: (a) priorities in the delivery of care; (b)professional roles, responsibilities, and role conflicts; (c) environmental factors influencing care omissions;and (d) perceived outcomes of rationing.Discussion: The delivery of nursing care is framed by the biomedical ethos and inter-professional role conflictwhile the standards of basic care are jeopardized. Organizational and environmental factors appear toexert significant influence on prioritization. Failure to carry out necessary nursing tasks may lead to adversepatient outcomes, role conflict, and an ethical burden on nurses.Conclusion: There is a need for further exploration and possible redesign of the nursing role, scope, andresponsibilities, as well as addressing the arising ethical issues of rationing in nursing care.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)583-593
Number of pages11
JournalNursing Ethics
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Ethics
  • focus groups
  • omissions
  • quality of healthcare
  • rationing


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