Kohlberg’s theory of moral reasoning can be applied to health care practice for providing patients with high-quality and ethical medical services and identifying the mechanisms through which doctors can make the most appropriate ethical decisions in their professional practice. According to Kohlberg’s theory of moral reasoning, an individual can pass through six gradual stages of moral development which can be regarded as the basis for ethical behavior. Every subsequent stage is characterized by more adequate responses to moral dilemmas than the previous one. All the six stages, including those of obedience and punishment driven stage, self-interest driven, interpersonal accord and conformity, authority and social order oriented, social contract oriented, and ethical principles driven stages, take place one by one, and neither of them can be skipped.
This theory can be applied in practice to identifying the types of moral reasoning in health care practitioners and identifying the changes which need to be made in educational programs for fostering nurses’ moral development. Additionally, the main principles of Kohlberg’s theory can be used in the economic analysis of the moral values which need to be promoted by hospital leaders for complying with patients’ needs. Therefore, the application of Kohlberg’s theory of moral development can be helpful for improving the quality of curricula and enhancing nurses’ awareness of ethical behaviors. In general, it can be concluded that Kohlberg’s theory of moral reasoning is relevant to modern healthcare theory and practice and can be applied to improving the quality of services and fostering the moral development of healthcare students and practitioners.