Objectives: To examine perceptions of nurses and physicians in regard to ethical decision-making climate in the ICU and to test the hypothesis that the worse the ethical decision-making climate, the greater the discordance between nurses' and physicians' rating of ethical decision-making climate with physicians hypothesized to rate the climate better than the nurses. Design: Prospective observational study. Setting: A total of 68 adult ICUs in 13 European countries and the United States. Subjects: ICU physicians and nurses. Interventions: None. Measurements and Main Results: Perceptions of ethical decision-making climate among clinicians were measured in April-May 2014, using a 35-items self-assessment questionnaire that evaluated seven factors (empowering leadership by physicians, interdisciplinary reflection, not avoiding end-of-life decisions, mutual respect within the interdisciplinary team, involvement of nurses in end-of-life care and decision-making, active decision-making by physicians, and ethical awareness). A total of 2,275 nurses and 717 physicians participated (response rate of 63%). Using cluster analysis, ICUs were categorized according to four ethical decision-making climates: good, average with nurses' involvement at end-of-life, average without nurses' involvement at end-of-life, and poor. Overall, physicians rated ethical decision-making climate more positively than nurses (p < 0.001 for all seven factors). Physicians had more positive perceptions of ethical decision-making climate than nurses in all 13 participating countries and in each individual participating ICU. Compared to ICUs with good or average ethical decision-making climates, ICUs with poor ethical decision-making climates had the greatest discordance between physicians and nurses. Although nurse/physician differences were found in all seven factors of ethical decision-making climate measurement, the factors with greatest discordance were regarding physician leadership, interdisciplinary reflection, and not avoiding end-of-life decisions. Conclusions: Physicians consistently perceived ICU ethical decision-making climate more positively than nurses. ICUs with poor ethical decision-making climates had the largest discrepancies.
- ethical climate
- intensive care unit
- interprofessional collaboration
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine