Facing SARS: psychological impacts on SARS team nurses and psychiatric services in a Taiwan general hospital

Gen Hosp Psychiatry. Sep-Oct 2005;27(5):352-8. doi: 10.1016/j.genhosppsych.2005.04.007.


Objective: The outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in 2003 resulted in 346 probable SARS cases and 37 deaths in Taiwan. This descriptive study, which was conducted from May to June 2003, intended to identify staff stress and coping strategies among a SARS team of nursing staff during the outbreak.

Method: Twenty-six female nurses of the SARS team completed a questionnaire about their experiences serving in the SARS team.

Results: SARS had both positive and negative psychological impacts on the nurses. While worrying about infecting their families and colleagues, nurses were able to cope with the situation through various means. Additional findings include the need for more psychiatric staff to provide flexible and continuous service, the importance of meetings to improve teamwork and reduce conflict between doctors and nurses and the useful discovery that video cell phones provided needed reassurance from afar to the worried families of the nurses.

Conclusion: This study reinforces the importance and benefits of psychiatric services for SARS team members in reducing their secondary traumatization. It is hoped that the results will enhance our knowledge on the needs of frontline health care workers and support the planning of better psychiatric services in future epidemics.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Disease Outbreaks
  • Female
  • Hospitals, Psychiatric
  • Humans
  • Nursing Staff, Hospital / psychology*
  • Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome / epidemiology*
  • Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome / nursing
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Taiwan / epidemiology