Moral Injury

March 22, 2020

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Anchor lead: A new term is being used to describe anguish on the job for medical professionals, Elizabeth Tracey reports

Moral injury. That’s the term some medical professionals are using to describe their mental state after prolonged exposures to situations where they feel compelled to make choices they wouldn’t if they were acting alone, and it is a major contributor to burnout. Cynda Rushton, a bioethics expert at Johns Hopkins, offers a definition.

Rushton: Moral injury to me is part of a continuum of moral suffering. What it points to is the anguish people feel when they feel like they’ve violated their core values, their sense of who they are and what they stand for. The continuum is that I think moral suffering can range from the sort of vague sense that something is wrong all the way to feeling like I have acted so contrary to my values that it really leaves me with a wound.   :32

Rushton says the term does help convey the depth of what people are feeling. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.

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