Nursing Ethics in Stem Cell Research: Perceived Attitudes and Beliefs of Nurses

Nursing Ethics in Stem Cell Research: Perceived Attitudes and Beliefs of Nurses

Author: 
Patricia A. Walker
Program of study: 
D.H.A.
Abstract: 
The future of stem cell research holds great potential for better medical treatments and cures, yet the field is plagued with controversies related to sourcing of embryonic stem cells, ethical debates about the personhood of embryos, and fears due to misconceptions about the processes of stem cell research and treatment. The purpose of this descriptive case study was to explore the perceived attitudes and beliefs toward the bioethical issues of stem cell research among acute care nursing professionals. Participants included a sample of 20 registered nurses (17 female and 3 male) ranging in age from 21 to older than 50. All participants had at least three years of acute care nursing experience and were currently working in an acute care facility in the State of Washington. Information was collected via semi-structured interviews with open-ended questions. The constant comparative method of data analysis was employed to collectively analyze data. NVivo 10 software was used to aid in organization, coding, pattern identification and theme generation. Ten themes emerged from the analysis: possible benefits, support for research, static attitudes, ethical concerns, source of cells, fear of cloning, federal funding, regulation, public education, and more training. Results of the study indicated that nurses regarded the potential benefits of stem cell research as important, were generally supportive of stem cell research, and had unchanging attitudes toward stem cell research. The nurses also expressed concern regarding the sourcing of stem cells and discussed the handling of ethical concerns. The need for public education and training regarding stem cell research and treatment was emphasized.
Dedication: 
This dissertation is dedicated to my parents, the late Rufus and Evon Douglas. Although you are not here to see me finish this milestone, I know you are always with me in spirit. My father, Chunk, who didn’t miss a day of work in 25 years at the West Memphis Cotton Gin, you will always be in my heart. To my dear sweet mother, Evon, who as a single mother always did her best to provide for the family working, spending long hours doing laundry and cooking as a short order cook at the Continental Truck stop. Those last 20 years you spent in a wheelchair did nothing to break your spirit or determination to be independent, strong, and courageous, even with the major physical limitations of a stroke and paralysis. Most individuals would have given up and resigned themselves to having a caretaker or attendant manage their activities of daily living, but not you. I watched daily as you managed to wash dishes, dust, and clean out the oven and refrigerator – all from a manual wheelchair. Now I know, even though I’ve encountered many setbacks, frustrations, and tears while traveling this doctoral journey, the will to never give up came directly from my momma. You always cherished even the littlest things and events in life. Thanks for teaching me to be patient. To my sisters, Gail, Flo, and Wheezi, and my brother, Rufus, I’ll always love you. To my precious nieces, April, Merkia, Tee Tee, my loving adopted daughter, Poodie, and my nephew John, I am forever grateful for your love and support throughout the many years. To my extended family, Christian Faith Center, Gloria Alderman, and pastors Casey and Wendy Treat, thanks for your support and prayers. To my sister from another mother, Dr. Sheila Smith, we are best friends forever. To Mr. French, Diane, and Darnell – we are all family.
Acknowledgements: 
First of all, thank you Jesus, for giving me the desire, discipline, and determination to pursue a lifelong dream. It was Your will that placed me on this educational path and Your grace, mercy, and strength that allowed me to complete the doctoral journey. Sometimes it was difficult, but You never said it would be easy, only that if I continued to have faith and trust God, You would never leave me, and that all things were possible if I believed and trusted in You. I would also like to acknowledge my Chair, Dr. Joann Kovacich, for her guidance, support, and encouragement while pursuing my doctorate degree. I appreciate all the countless times you gave me a gentle push when I wanted to just give up, your sense of humor that brought a smile to my face and heart when I was feeling down and out, I couldn’t have made it without you. To my committee members, Dr. Stephanie Hoffman and Dr. Margaret Kroposki, who came on board at time when I thought my ship was sunk, I’m forever grateful. In memory of Dr. Vaughan, who had a higher commitment that prevented her from completing the journey with me, we finally made it. I would like to thank the best librarians in the world at UOP for your dedication, support, and research efforts that were instrumental in obtaining international journals on stem cell research. To my editor, Jessica, who always smoothed out the rough edges, it’s been a long and winding road, but the end is here. Last but not least, I would like to express my gratitude and appreciation to the managers and staff nurse participants of the hospital that participated in this research study. Your support made this entire research study possible. Thank you.