An exploratory study of nurses suffering from severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS)

Int J Nurs Pract. 2005 Aug;11(4):150-60. doi: 10.1111/j.1440-172X.2005.00520.x.


In 2003, severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) came to be recognized as a newly emergent form of disease that is highly contagious. The aim of this study was to describe the perceptions of nurses with SARS in Hong Kong, as the perceptions of nurses who have suffered from SARS have not been studied. Ten nurses who had suffered from SARS were interviewed, either face-to-face or by telephone, about their subjective experiences. These interviews provided in-depth, descriptive data, which were analysed using content analysis. Nine broad categories were identified: uncertainty, information control, feelings of anger and guilt, lack of preparation and fear of death, feelings of isolation and loneliness, physical effects, support, change of perspective of life, and change of perspective of nursing. Although the dreaded disease affected the nurses tremendously, both physically and psychologically, it has also had its positive side. As a result of experiencing the illness, the participants came to treasure relationships, health and everyday life more. In caring for patients, they came to see the world more from the perspective of the patients. They found that they need to take the time to reassure patients and families and to seriously listen to all of their concerns.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Adult
  • Anger
  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Boredom
  • Fear
  • Female
  • Guilt
  • Hong Kong
  • Humans
  • Infectious Disease Transmission, Patient-to-Professional
  • Loneliness
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nursing Methodology Research
  • Nursing Staff, Hospital / psychology*
  • Patient Education as Topic
  • Patient Isolation / psychology
  • Qualitative Research
  • Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome / diagnosis
  • Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome / psychology*
  • Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome / transmission
  • Social Isolation
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Uncertainty