Moral Emotions in Palliative Care: Empirical Insights from Austria and Canada

Elisabeth Reitinger, Katharina Heimerl, , Kevin Brazil

Research output: Contribution to journalMeeting abstractpeer-review


Research aims: Moral emotions as one specific group of emotions play a vital role in delivering palliative care as e.g. ethical issues and moral distress belong to daily routine.
Moral emotions are oriented to the welfare of other persons or the society as a whole. To better understand moral emotions in Palliative Care the aims of the presented study are to ana- lyze care situations from Austria and Canada in different care settings and identify families of moral emotions on one hand and describe influencing contextual factors on the other hand. Methods: Within a qualitative study design a reanalysis of Austrian narratives on ethical issues and Canadian narra- tives on moral distress were conducted. Data in Austria encompass 36 narratives that were generated through qual- itative questionnaires in nursing homes. Canadian data are based on qualitative interviews with home care palliative specialists and encompass 47 critical incidents. The reanal- ysis of data was conducted with narrative analysis. Results: Preliminary results show that moral emotions in palliative care can be found in families around “empathy and relatedness”, “sadness, isolation and bereavement”, “anger, frustration and powerlessness”, “guilt and shame” and “being touched and feel close”. Contextual factors influencing moral emotions can be summarized as “suffer- ing and decline of client”, “expectations and dynamics of family”, “structural conflicts and power issues” and “lack of resources and information”.
Conclusion: The diversity of moral emotions reflects the everyday experiences in palliative care. It became obvious that most of the moral emotions that have been expressed appear to be interconnected within a bundle of other emo- tions. Contextual factors influencing moral emotions in pal- liative care are relatively independent of care settings. In Palliative Care moral emotions and their contextual factors constitute an important source of insight for reflection in organizational ethics.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberP259
Pages (from-to)NP199
JournalJournal of Palliative Medicine
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2016
Event9th World Research Congress of the European Association for Palliative Care (EAPC) - University College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland
Duration: 09 Jun 201611 Jun 2016
Conference number: 9


  • Ethics
  • Morals


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