Ethical Dilemmas in Nursing Topics, PICOT, EBP & Capstone Project Ideas and Examples

In the realm of healthcare, nurses are often at the forefront of patient care, making crucial decisions that can impact the well-being of individuals. However, the landscape of healthcare is not always straightforward; it’s replete with ethical dilemmas that can challenge even the most experienced nursing professionals. These dilemmas arise from the interplay of medical advancements, cultural considerations, patient autonomy, and resource constraints.

Ethical Dilemmas in Nursing Topics

This article delves into the ethical dilemmas nurses may encounter, exploring various frameworks to aid in ethical decision-making, it also covers 30 Nursing Essay Topic Ideas on Ethical Dilemmas in Nursing Practice, PICOT Questions Examples, EBP and Capstone Project ideas plus Nursing Research Topic ideas on the same topic.

PICOT Question Examples Related to Ethical Dilemmas in Nursing Practice

  1. In critically ill patients (P), how does withholding life-sustaining treatment (I) compared to providing aggressive interventions (C) affect patient outcomes (O) within the intensive care unit (T)?
  2. In pediatric oncology patients (P), what is the impact of disclosing terminal prognosis (I) versus withholding information (C) on patient and family psychological well-being (O) during treatment (T)?
  3. Among elderly patients with advanced dementia (P), how does the use of restraints (I) compared to non-restraint interventions (C) influence patient safety and quality of life (O) in long-term care facilities (T)?
  4. For pregnant adolescents seeking abortion (P), what is the effect of mandatory parental consent (I) versus confidential access (C) on access to safe abortion services (O) within a legal framework (T)?
  5. In organ transplantation (P), how does the allocation based on medical urgency (I) compared to allocation based on societal contribution (C) impact equity in organ distribution (O) over a five-year period (T)?
  6. Among terminally ill patients (P), what is the effect of physician-assisted suicide (I) compared to palliative care only (C) on patient quality of life and dignity (O) during end-of-life care (T)?
  7. In patients with severe mental illness (P), how does involuntary medication (I) compared to voluntary medication adherence (C) influence long-term clinical outcomes (O) within psychiatric institutions (T)?
  8. Among healthcare professionals (P), what is the impact of disclosing medical errors (I) versus non-disclosure (C) on patient trust and safety (O) in a hospital setting (T)?
  9. For patients with limited English proficiency (P), how does the use of professional medical interpreters (I) compared to ad hoc interpreter arrangements (C) affect communication quality and patient understanding (O) during medical consultations (T)?
  10. In the neonatal intensive care unit (P), what is the effect of family-centered care (I) versus traditional care (C) on neonatal mortality rates (O) over a two-year period (T)?

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Evidence-Based Practice (EBP) Project Ideas Related to Ethical Dilemmas in Nursing Practice

  1. Developing a protocol for addressing cultural considerations in end-of-life decisions.
  2. Implementing a system for reporting and addressing workplace bullying among healthcare staff.
  3. Creating guidelines for ethical use of emerging technologies like AI in patient care.
  4. Designing an intervention to improve ethical decision-making in nursing education.
  5. Evaluating the effectiveness of ethics committees in resolving complex patient cases.
  6. Establishing guidelines for prioritizing resource allocation during a public health crisis.
  7. Designing a program to support nurses facing moral distress in their practice.
  8. Investigating the impact of nurse-patient ratios on patient safety and ethical care.
  9. Developing strategies for ensuring patient autonomy while managing non-adherent patients.
  10. Assessing the ethical implications of off-label drug use in pediatric patients.

Nursing Capstone Project Ideas on Ethical Dilemmas in Nursing Practice

  1. Analyzing the ethical challenges posed by telehealth and telemedicine in underserved communities.
  2. Creating a toolkit for addressing ethical concerns in genetic counseling.
  3. Investigating the ethical dilemmas surrounding organ trafficking and black-market trade.
  4. Developing guidelines for maintaining patient confidentiality in the age of electronic health records.
  5. Exploring the ethical considerations of nurse-led clinical trials.
  6. Examining the role of nurses in advocating for marginalized patient populations.
  7. Evaluating the ethical implications of nurses’ involvement in lethal injection procedures.
  8. Designing a protocol for addressing the ethical concerns of withdrawing life-sustaining treatment.
  9. Investigating the impact of nurse-patient communication on informed consent processes.
  10. Analyzing the ethical challenges of disclosing medical errors to pediatric patients and their families.
Ethical Dilemmas in Nursing Topics

Nursing Research Paper Topics on Ethical Dilemmas in Nursing Practice

  1. Ethical implications of nurse participation in assisted reproductive technologies.
  2. Cultural competence in nursing: Addressing ethical challenges in diverse patient populations.
  3. Nurse whistleblowing: Balancing professional integrity and organizational loyalty.
  4. Ethical considerations in organ transplantation: Donor consent and autonomy.
  5. Technology and ethical nursing practice: Implications of AI, robotics, and telemedicine.
  6. Ethical dilemmas in pediatric pain management: Balancing comfort and addiction risks.
  7. Nursing advocacy in end-of-life decisions: Patient autonomy vs. family wishes.
  8. Ethical dimensions of nurse-patient relationships in psychiatric care.
  9. Moral distress among nursing professionals: Causes, consequences, and interventions.
  10. Ethical implications of nurses’ involvement in medical aid in dying.
  11. Euthanasia and nursing practice: A global comparative analysis.
  12. Ethical considerations in nursing research involving vulnerable populations.
  13. Nurse gatekeeping: Balancing patient access to care and resource limitations.
  14. Privacy and confidentiality challenges in genetic and genomic nursing.
  15. Ethical issues in maternal-fetal conflicts: Navigating complex medical decisions.
  16. Nursing professionals’ role in addressing healthcare disparities: Ethical imperatives.
  17. Clinical trials and vulnerable populations: Ensuring ethical treatment and informed consent.
  18. Ethical dimensions of resource allocation during public health emergencies.
  19. Autonomy and decision-making capacity in pediatric nursing: Ethical nuances.
  20. Ethical implications of artificial nutrition and hydration withdrawal in terminally ill patients.

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Nursing Research Questions on Ethical Dilemmas in Nursing Practice

  1. How do cultural norms and beliefs influence ethical decision-making in end-of-life care?
  2. What strategies can nurses employ to effectively address conflicts between patients’ autonomy and family preferences?
  3. How do nurses navigate ethical dilemmas related to pain management in terminally ill patients?
  4. What are the ethical implications of using mobile health apps for patient monitoring and data collection?
  5. How can nurses balance the duty to provide care with the need to protect themselves during infectious disease outbreaks?
  6. What factors contribute to nurse whistleblowing, and how does organizational culture influence reporting behavior?
  7. How do nursing professionals perceive the use of AI and robotics in patient care, and what ethical concerns do they raise?
  8. What role should nurses play in advocating for vulnerable patient populations within a resource-constrained healthcare system?
  9. What are the ethical considerations when engaging in nurse-led clinical research involving human subjects?
  10. How do nurses manage moral distress in situations where patient autonomy clashes with medical futility?
  11. What are the ethical and legal challenges associated with nurses’ involvement in assisted reproductive technologies?
  12. How do nurses balance the duty to maintain patient privacy with the benefits of electronic health records?
  13. What ethical guidelines should nurses follow when dealing with genetic information and testing?
  14. How do nurses in different countries navigate the ethical complexities of euthanasia and assisted suicide?
  15. What are the primary sources of moral distress among psychiatric nurses, and what interventions mitigate its impact?
  16. How do nursing professionals in various healthcare settings address the ethical dilemmas posed by AI-driven diagnostic tools?
  17. What strategies can nurses employ to ensure culturally sensitive and ethical communication with non-English-speaking patients?
  18. What ethical considerations arise when nurses participate in clinical trials involving vulnerable patient populations?
  19. How do nurses balance their duty to provide care with the ethical challenges posed by healthcare disparities?
  20. How can nurses effectively address ethical dilemmas related to maternal-fetal conflicts, particularly when the life of the mother is at risk?
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Nursing Essay Topic Ideas on Ethical Dilemmas in Nursing Practice

  1. The Role of Nurse Advocacy in Respecting Patient Autonomy
  2. Ethical Dimensions of End-of-Life Decision-Making: Balancing Patient Wishes and Medical Futility
  3. Navigating Cultural Competence Challenges in Nursing Practice
  4. Ethical Implications of Artificial Intelligence and Robotics in Healthcare
  5. Confidentiality vs. Duty to Warn: Ethical Dilemmas in Psychiatric Nursing
  6. Informed Consent and Vulnerable Populations: Ethical Considerations in Clinical Research
  7. Resource Allocation in Public Health Emergencies: Ethical Imperatives for Nursing Professionals
  8. Ethical Implications of Nurse Participation in Medical Aid in Dying
  9. Patient Privacy in the Digital Age: Balancing Electronic Health Records and Data Security
  10. Pediatric Pain Management: Ethical Challenges in Opioid Administration
  11. The Role of Nurse Whistleblowing in Ensuring Patient Safety
  12. Addressing Genetic Information and Counseling Ethically in Nursing Practice
  13. Nurse-Patient Communication and Informed Consent: Challenges and Strategies
  14. Cultural Influences on Nurse-Patient Relationships and Ethical Decision-Making
  15. The Ethics of Organ Trafficking and Black-Market Organ Trade
  16. Nursing Professionals as Advocates for Healthcare Equity: Addressing Disparities
  17. Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide: Global Perspectives on Nursing Practice
  18. Patient Autonomy vs. Family Wishes: Ethical Dilemmas in End-of-Life Care
  19. The Impact of Moral Distress on Nursing Practice: Causes and Mitigation
  20. Artificial Nutrition and Hydration Withdrawal: Ethical Considerations in Palliative Care
  21. Non-Disclosure of Medical Errors: Balancing Patient Safety and Professional Integrity
  22. Ethical Challenges of Nurse Involvement in Assisted Reproductive Technologies
  23. Navigating Maternal-Fetal Conflicts: Ethical Decision-Making in Obstetric Nursing
  24. Nurse Gatekeeping in Resource-Constrained Healthcare Settings: Ethical Perspectives
  25. The Role of Nurses in Advocating for Children’s Healthcare Rights
  26. Technology-Mediated Nurse-Patient Relationships: Ethical Implications and Challenges
  27. Addressing Workplace Bullying in Nursing: Ethical and Professional Considerations
  28. The Ethical Dimensions of Withholding Life-Sustaining Treatment: Patient Dignity vs. Medical Intervention
  29. Ensuring Ethical Treatment of Vulnerable Populations in Clinical Trials: Nurses’ Responsibilities
  30. Nurses as Ethical Decision-Makers: Strategies for Navigating Complex Patient Cases

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Nursing Essay Examples on Ethical Dilemmas in Nursing Practice

  1. Ethical Dilemmas Faced by Nurse Leaders
  2. Contemporary Ethical Dilemmas
  3. Ethical dilemmas encountered in professional nursing practice
  4. Pediatric Ethical Dilemma In Pediatric Nursing
  5. Ethical Challenges In Health Care For Practicing NPs


Ethical dilemmas are an inherent aspect of nursing practice, arising from the convergence of medical advancements, patient rights, and resource limitations. Nurses must navigate these complexities with sensitivity, professionalism, and adherence to ethical principles. By employing ethical decision-making frameworks, research, and evidence-based practices, nurses can address these dilemmas with the utmost care, ensuring the best possible outcomes for their patients while maintaining the highest standards of ethical conduct.


1. What are the ethical dilemmas faced by nurses?

Rationing of limited resources, restrictions on the freedom and autonomy of patients and their families and the distinction between groups, in choosing who should receive care when patients are many and nurses are few.

2. What are the 4 pillars of accountability in nursing?

This introductory text in the ‘Vital Notes for Nurses’ series sets out a framework for accountability which consists of four ‘pillars’ – legal, ethical, employment and professional accountability – against which clinical issues can be considered.

3. What are the ethical dilemma in nursing?

An ethical dilemma in nursing is a situation where a nurse must decide between competing values and know that no matter what choice they make, there are consequences. Ethical dilemmas may conflict with the nurse’s personal values or with the Code of Ethics for Nurses.

4. What are the 7 ethical principles in nursing?

  1. Accountability.
  2. Justice.
  3. Nonmaleficence.
  4. Autonomy.
  5. Beneficence.
  6. Fidelity.
  7. Veracity.


  1. “Ethical and Legal Issues for Doctoral Nursing Students: A Textbook for Students and Reference for Nurse Leaders” by Anne Griswold Peirce
  2. “Ethical Competence in Nursing Practice: Competencies, Skills, Decision-Making” by Catherine Robichaux
  3. “Ethics and Issues in Contemporary Nursing” by Margaret A. Burkhardt and Alvita Nathaniel
  4. “Bioethics: Principles, Issues, and Cases” by Lewis Vaughn
  5. “The Oxford Handbook of Nursing Ethics” by Tonia Dandry Aiken and Pamela Grace
  6. “Ethics and Professionalism in Healthcare: Transition and Challenges” by Mary Ellen Ternes and Constance M. Schmitz
  7. “Nursing Ethics: Across the Curriculum and Into Practice” by Janie B. Butts and Karen L. Rich
  8. “Ethical Dilemmas and Nursing Practice” by Anne J. Davis and Linda L. Redman

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