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Table 2 Results from the data analysis displaying the organization of the overarching theme, themes, categories, and subcategories

From: The burden of choice: a qualitative study of healthcare professionals’ reactions to ethical challenges in humanitarian crises

Overarching theme


Categories and subcategories

Struggling to make the right choice

1. Ethics as a sense of right or wrong

Experiencing various ethical challengesa

 Challenges between self and organizationb

 Challenges within selfb

 Challenges between self and cultureb

Wanting to do the right thinga

Recognizing unethical motivationsa

2. Adversely bearing the burden of choice

Experiencing emotional sufferinga

 Powerlessness and instability

 Anger and frustration

 Being isolated and abandoned


Negative impacts on care deliverya

Not wanting to continue worka

Needing coping mechanismsa

 Needing to be tough

3. Held hostage by institutional constraints

Being silenced by the organizationa

Organization feigning ignorancea

Bureaucracy as an alibia

Struggling against ordersa

4. The difficulty of preparing for ethical challenges

Lacking formal ethical guidelinesa

Questioning how to train for challengesa

Looking for guidance from the teama

Experience making it easiera

Positive organizational supporta

  1. aCategories
  2. bSubcategories