Nurses’ integrity and coping strategies: An integrative review

Sastrawan Sastrawan, Jennifer Margaret Newton, Gulzar Malik

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


Introduction: Integrity is one of the core values in nursing that needs to be maintained by nurses in practice. However, the complexity in the nursing milieu can pose threats to integrity. An understanding of the common threats and coping strategies might assist nurses in preserving integrity in everyday practice. Aims and objectives: To review and synthesis the concept of integrity in nursing and identify common threats and coping strategies. Methods: Whittemore and Knafl's integrative review method was implemented. A search was performed in Scopus, Medline, Embase, PsycINFO, Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature, and Proquest Health and Medical electronic databases published in English between 2000–2017. Two reviewers independently assessed eligibility for inclusion. Methodological appropriateness for the included studies was assessed using the critical appraisal skills programme. The constant comparative method of grounded theory was used to analyse and synthesise data from seven peer-reviewed articles. Results: Two major conceptions of integrity were identified. These included the sense of wholeness with regard to personal–professional concerns and ethical–moral conducts. Five entities, self, patients, teamwork and work culture, the nature of work, and organisation, were identified as interweaving elements that may induce threats to integrity. When integrity is threatened, nurses use two key strategies to survive: adjusting and compensating. An emergent framework to facilitate understanding of nurses’ threats to integrity is discussed. Conclusions: A threat to nurses’ integrity takes form when there is an unmitigated gap between a nurse's expectation and reality. While the expectation comes from within the nurse, the reality materialises out of the complex interplays that occur in the healthcare workforce. Maintaining integrity demands a continual strive to balance personal expectations, professional concerns and nursing realities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)733-744
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Clinical Nursing
Issue number5-6
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2019
Externally publishedYes


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