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Moral distress related to ethical dilemmas among Spanish podiatrists
  1. Marta Elena Losa Iglesias1,
  2. Ricardo Becerro de Bengoa Vallejo2,
  3. Paloma Salvadores Fuentes1
  1. 1Facultad de Ciencias de la Salud, Universidad Rey Juan Carlos, Madrid, Spain
  2. 2Escuela Universitaria de Enfermería, Fisioterapia y Podología, Facultad de Medicina, Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Spain
  1. Correspondence to Dr Marta Elena Losa Iglesias, Facultad de Ciencias de la Salud, Universidad Rey Juan Carlos, Madrid, Spain; marta.losa{at}


Objectives To describe the distress experienced by Spanish podiatrists related to ethical dilemmas, organisational matters, and lack of resources.

Design A 2008 email survey of a representative sample of 485 Spanish podiatrists presenting statements about different ethical dilemmas, values and goals at the workplace.

Results The response rate was 44.8%. Of all the respondents, 57% described sometimes having to act against their own conscience as distressing. Time constraints is the main cause of moral distress (67%) and 58% of respondents said that they found it distressing that patients have long waits for treatment. Distress related to inadequate treatment due to economical constraints or ineffectiveness was described by 60% of the podiatrists. Another 51% reported that time spent on administration and documentation is distressing. Female doctors experienced more distress than their male colleagues. Last, 36% of respondents reported that their workplace lacked strategies for dealing with ethical dilemmas.

Conclusion These study results identify moral distress among Spanish podiatrists mainly related to time constraints, patient demands and lack of resources. Moral distress varies with sex and age. Organisational strategies such as moral deliberation and responsive evaluation offer the potential to address moral distress.

  • Moral distress
  • podiatrists
  • ethical dilemmas
  • applied and professional ethics
  • professional misconduct
  • research on special populations

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  • Competing interests None.

  • Patient consent Obtained.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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