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Document Type

Thesis - University Access Only

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department / School

Graduate Nursing

First Advisor

Margaret Hegge


nursing ethics in South Dakota, nursing decision making


The purpose of this study was to determine what decisions South Dakota nurses make when presented with simulated ethical dilemmas from nursing practice. The study was performed with practicing registered nurses as subjects.
A questionnaire was mailed to 200 registered nurses with a response rate of 43%. The nurses were divided into three groups; associate degree nurses (n=100), baccalaureate (n=50), and masters degree or above (n=50). The questionnaire gathered demographic data and determined an ethical reasoning score with use of the Ethical Behavior Test(EBT). The research design was comparative descriptive with variables of (a) years of experience, (b) gender, (c)work-setting, (d)highest level of education, (e) previous college course in ethics, previous continuing education in ethics, and (g) influence of spiritual values.
The findings showed that the variables gender and having taken a previous college course in ethics were statistically significant in regards to ethical reasoning scores. None of the other variables—years of experience, work-setting, highest level of education, previous continuing education in ethics, or influence or spiritual values—were statistically significant in regards to ethical reasoning scores.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Nursing ethics -- South Dakota.
Nursing -- South Dakota -- Decision making.



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University


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