Challenging misperceptions about nurses’ moral reasoning

Laura Duckett, Mary Rowan-Boyer, Muriel B. Rydhn, Patricia Crisham, Kay Savik, James R. Rest

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


Discussions in the musing literature about the usefulness of Kohlberg’s theory of moral reasoning for women and nurses, and assertions about the level of moral reasoning scorns of nurses have been clouded by inaccuracies and misperceptions. In this article, theoretical and measurement issues related to moral reasoning am clarified and a critical review of the literature is provided about the moral reasoning of Nursing students and nurses as measured by the Defining Issues Test (DIT). The review indicates the need for greater rigor in studies of moral reasoning among muses and the need for accuracy in interpreting and reporting moral reasoning scores. The data show that the moral reasoning of nurses, like that of other groups, tends to increase with formal education. Nurses’ scores am usually comparable to, and sometimes higher than, scores of their academic peers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)324-331
Number of pages8
JournalNursing research
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jan 1 1992

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