Conscience is an important concept in ethics, having various meanings in different cultures. Because a growing number of healthcare professionals are of immigrant background, particularly within the care of older people, demanding multiple ethical positions, it is important to explore the meaning of conscience among care providers within different cultural contexts.
The study aimed to illuminate the meaning of conscience by enrolled nurses with an Iranian background working in residential care for Persian-speaking people with dementia.
A phenomenological hermeneutical method guided the study. Participants and research context: A total of 10 enrolled nurses with Iranian background, aged 33-46 years, participated in the study. All worked full time in residential care settings for Persian-speaking people with dementia in a large city, in Sweden. Ethical considerations: The study was approved by the Regional Ethical Review Board for ethical vetting of research involving humans. Participants were given verbal and written study information and assured that their participation was voluntary and confidential.
Three themes were constructed including perception of conscience, clear conscience grounded in relations and striving to keep a clear conscience. The conscience was perceived as an inner guide grounded in feelings, which is dynamic and subject to changes throughout life. Having a clear conscience meant being able to form a bond with others, to respect them and to get their confirmation that one does well. To have a clear conscience demanded listening to the voice of the conscience. The enrolled nurses strived to keep their conscience clear by being generous in helping others, accomplishing daily tasks well and behaving nicely in the hope of being treated the same way one day.
Cultural frameworks and the context of practice needed to be considered in interpreting the meaning of conscience and clear conscience.