With resources from the Käthe Zingg-Schwichtenberg Fund, the SAMS has supported research projects in biomedical ethics – namely clinical and public health ethics – since 2006. The annual call for proposals is either thematically open, and primarily addressed to young researchers, or focused on a specific topic.
2022 call for proposals: «Moral distress among the healthcare workforce»
The concept of moral distress was first defined by the American philosopher and public health ethicist Andrew Jameton in the 1980s to describe the mental and moral repercussions experienced by nurses prevented from providing proper care, usually due to institutional restrictions (1). Since then, the concept has been broadened to include experiences in which various healthcare professionals – nurses, physicians, healthcare managers, etc.– are unable to provide ethically appropriate action or are involved in a situation perceived to be morally undesirable.
In international studies, moral distress has been shown to negatively affect the resilience of workers – leading to loss of meaning, lower physical and mental health and high drop-out rates, among other things. Likewise, negative effects were evident in the healthcare system with increased rates of illness, higher turn-over rates or loss of institutional memory (2). Problems that the experience of the Covid-19 pandemic has made even more visible and acute.
With this year’s call for proposals from the KZS Fund, the SAMS invites researchers to address the question of moral distress among healthcare professionals in the Swiss context, for which solid data and an in-depth medical-ethical discussion are still largely missing.
(1) A. Jameton, Nursing Practice: The Ethical Issues, (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1984, 6)
(2) A.M. Viens, C. R. McGowan and C. M. Vass, Moral distress among healthcare workers: ethics support is a crucial part of the puzzle (BMJ Opinion, 2020)
Funding and framework
For the 2022 KZS Fund call for proposals, a total of CHF 250'000.– is available. Support is to be provided for empirical or theoretical research projects investigating the topic of «Moral distress among the healthcare workforce» from a clinical ethics and/or public health ethics perspective. Supported projects must help to understand the roots of healthcare workers' – nurses' and physicians' – frustration and high professional drop-out rates in the Swiss context.
Projects must be in the planning stage; funding will not be provided for ongoing projects.
The Central Ethics Committee (CEC) of the SAMS will accompany the supported projects. The results will feed into the discussion on whether clinical ethics structures could contribute to alleviate moral distress among healthcare professionals. If appropriate, the CEC will publish recommendations for practical implementation of the results.
Use of grants
The amounts awarded are variable – i.e. applications can be made either for the entire amount available (CHF 250’000.–) or for a smaller grant. Decisions will be based on the coherence of the project goals, planning and budget. Grants are generally awarded for a maximum period of 2 years; requests for longer-term support must be justified in the application. Funding can be used to finance project costs and/or to cover salary costs for the main applicant.
Applications meeting the formal requirements will be evaluated by the KZS Expert Committee in accordance with the criteria defined in the KZS Fund Regulations and specified in the 2022 call for proposals. The Committee will decide whether support is to be provided for one or more than one research project. Decisions will be communicated by 30 November 2022.
Submission of applications
Applications, written in German, French or English, must be registered online. Details on the format and procedure for submission can be found on the registration page.
Submission deadline: 15 May 2022
Earliest grant start: 1 December 2022