Refereed journal article or data article (A1)

Reasoning for whistleblowing in health care

List of AuthorsWiisak Johanna, Suhonen Riitta, Leino-Kilpi Helena


Publication year2023

JournalScandinavian Journal of Caring Sciences


Journal acronymSCAND J CARING SCI

Volume number37

Issue number2

Start page316

End page327

Number of pages12





Self-archived copy’s web address


Whistleblowing is recognised as part of solving wrongdoing. It requires individual reasoning as it is a potentially complicated process with a risk of possible negative consequences for oneself. Knowledge on how individuals reason for whistleblowing in healthcare context is lacking.

This study aimed to create a theoretical construct to describe individual reasoning for whistleblowing.

The methodology was grounded theory, with 244 nurses as informants. The data consisted of nurses' written narratives in response to a wrongdoing situation presented in a video vignette. To ensure the heterogeneity of the population and variation in nurses' professional expertise, experiences and geographical locations in health care to capture the multidimensionality of the responses, nurses were invited to participate, and data were collected electronically from the membership register of the Finnish Nurses' Association on a national level. Constant comparison was used to analyse the open data.

The core category of the theoretical construct, 'The formation of morally courageous intervening', was discovered, reflecting individual's values and beliefs. It forms mentally as an integration of cognition and emotion for recognising one's own strengths and limits to act to do the right thing despite the risk of negative consequences for oneself. The core category consists of three dimensions of reasoning: (1) Reasoning Actors, (2) Reasoning Justifications and (3) Reasoning Activities, their categories and three patterns of reasoning connecting the dimensions and their categories with each other: (I) Individual Reasoning, (II) Collaborative Reasoning and (III) Collective Reasoning.

Discussion and conclusion
The theoretical construct indicate that reasoning is a multidimensional phenomenon. In future, a theoretical construct could be further developed. In health care, managers could use the theoretical construct to support employees in their whistleblowing.

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Last updated on 2023-26-09 at 13:51