Picking the ‘proper hat?’ Emerging ethical dilemmas while juggling nursing and research roles

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Aim: The aim of this study is to explore ethical dilemmas inherent in two potentially conflicting roles: practising nurse and researcher. Background: Ethical guidelines for practice and research in nursing have been widely discussed. Yet examining ethical dilemmas that emerge from engaging in the dual role of nurse–researcher is rare. Method: A qualitative approach was employed, using semi-structured interviews with 15 nurse–researchers. Data were analysed using thematic analysis. Results: One theme emerged with three subthemes of nurse–researcher role definitions: primarily nurse, primarily researcher and combined nurse–researcher. Each subtheme had three dimensions: (a) how ethical dilemmas were expressed in encounters with role colleagues, (b) coping strategies and (c) implications for nurse–researchers. Conclusion: Primarily nurses or primarily researchers experienced conflict in encounters with role colleagues, developed less effective coping strategies and reported impaired well-being. Conversely, combined nurse–researchers said each role nourished the other. Implications for nursing management: Nursing policymakers and managers should support the nurse–researcher role by developing a code of ethics that acknowledges the dual role's inherent dilemmas, assimilate organisational routines and roles that support nursing research and encourage forums for discussing staff dilemmas.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2278-2290
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Nursing Management
Issue number7
StatePublished - Oct 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


  • ethical dilemmas in nursing research
  • qualitative research
  • research ethics
  • researcher's role conflict
  • thematic analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Leadership and Management


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