Relief of suffering and regard for personhood: Nurses' ethical concerns in Japan and the USA

Dawn Doutrich, Peggy Wros, Shigeko Izumi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


The ethical concerns of Japanese nurses are compared with those of previously described nurses from the USA. Patient comfort was a primary concern of nurses from both countries. Participants described an ethical imperative to provide adequate pain medication for patients and prevent unnecessary and uncomfortable invasive tests and procedures, especially at the end of life as the focus changed from ‘cure’ to ‘care’. The notion of regard for personhood varied, based on the communication styles and definition of the self inherent in the different cultures of the nurses. A common meaning centred around knowing patients as persons, listening to their needs and preferences, supporting their everyday choices through advocacy, and maintaining their dignity. Despite background cultural differences, there are common ethical concerns between nurses in Japan and the USA. This article invites readers to reflect on everyday nursing practices that exemplify ethical expertise, and the significance of this expertise in uncovering and articulating nursing ethics across cultures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)449-458
Number of pages10
JournalNursing Ethics
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2001


  • Japan
  • ethics
  • nursing
  • transcultural

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Issues, ethics and legal aspects


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