Re‐assessing the validity of the Moral Sensitivity Questionnaire (MSQ): Two new scales for moral deliberation and paternalism

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Rationale, aims, and objectives: The current study and previous research have called the six-component model of Lützen's 30-item Moral Sensitivity Questionnaire (MSQ) into question. For this reason, we re-examined the construct validity of this instrument. Methods: In this cross-sectional study, which was based on a convenience sample of Dutch nurse practitioners (NPs) and physician assistants (PAs), we tested the validity of MSQ items using exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses (EFA and CFA, respectively). Results: The EFA revealed a two-component model, which was then tested as a target model with CFA and was found to have good model fit. Some items were correlated with two uncorrelated latent constructs, which we labelled as “paternalistic” and “deliberate” attitudes towards patients. Conclusions: As in previous studies, the analyses in the current study, which was conducted among PAs and NPs, did not reveal six dimensions for the 30 items. Two new latent dimensions of moral sensitivity were psychometrically tested and confirmed. These two components relate to studies investigating ethical behaviour, and they can be used to describe the moral climate in healthcare organizations. The scales are indicators of the extent to which health professionals behave in a deliberate (sensitive) or paternalistic (insensitive) manner towards the opinions of patients within the context of medical decision-making.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)659-669
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2020


  • moral sensitivity
  • nurse practitioners
  • physician assistants
  • paternalism


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