10.3390/ijerph17218126 ">

Nurse reports of stressful situations during the COVID-19 pandemic: Qualitative analysis of survey responses

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International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health


© 2020 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic has exposed nurses to conditions that threaten their health, well-being, and ability to work. It is therefore critical to study nurses’ experiences and well-being during the current crisis in order to identify risk groups for ill health and potential sources of organizational intervention. The aim of this study was to explore perceptions of the most salient sources of stress in the early stages of the coronavirus pandemic in a sample of U.S. nurses. A cross-sectional online survey was conducted among a sample of 695 U.S. nurses in May 2020. Content analysis was conducted on nurses’ responses (n = 455) to an open-ended question on the most stressful situations they had experienced during the pandemic. Six distinct themes emerged from the analysis: exposure/infection-self; illness/death-others; workplace; personal protective equipment/supplies; unknowns; opinions/politics. Two sub-themes concerned restrictions associated with the pandemic and feelings of inadequacy/helplessness regarding patients and their treatment. More than half of all comments concerned stress related to problems in workplace response to the pandemic. Healthcare institutions should provide opportunities for nurses to discuss the stress they are experiencing, support one another, and make suggestions for workplace adaptations during this pandemic.

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