Work environment of hospital nurses during the COVID-19 pandemic in Brazil

Int Nurs Rev. 2021 Jun;68(2):228-237. doi: 10.1111/inr.12662. Epub 2021 Feb 15.


Aim: To investigate the nurses' work environment in university hospitals during the COVID-19 pandemic in Brazil.

Background: The COVID-19 pandemic brought challenging times for nurses worldwide. In Brazil, as well as in several countries, nurses are working hard in hospital settings caring for patients infected with the virus, sometimes with unfavourable work environment conditions.

Methods: This study was a convergent embedded mixed methods research. The sample comprised 104 nurses from three Brazilian university hospitals. Data were collected in April-June 2020 from an online questionnaire with a self-reporting Likert scale survey designed to measure the nurses' perceptions of their work environment. Qualitative data in the form of written comments were also collected through an open question. Data were analysed using descriptive statistics and content analysis.

Results: The quantitative results showed that the responses to 'I received training on the correct use of personal protective equipment' and 'I am afraid of being infected' items had the best and worst evaluations, respectively. The qualitative findings revealed five themes: feeling of insecurity, lack of personal protective equipment, lack of diagnostic tests, changes in the care flow and fear of the unknown.

Conclusion: The study has highlighted the challenges faced by hospital nurses while caring for patients with COVID-19.

Implications for nursing and nursing policy: The gaps identified will assist the policymakers and hospital managers in developing policies to enhance the support offered to nurses and improve the care provided to patients with COVID-19 in university hospitals. The results also indicate the need for attention to the mental health of the professionals due to the increasing workload and treatment of an illness hitherto unknown.

Keywords: coronavirus infections; hospitals; nurse's role; organization and administration; pandemics; university; work environment.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Brazil / epidemiology
  • COVID-19 / epidemiology
  • COVID-19 / nursing*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Hospitals, University
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Nursing Staff, Hospital / psychology*
  • Pandemics
  • Pneumonia, Viral / epidemiology
  • Pneumonia, Viral / nursing*
  • Pneumonia, Viral / virology
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Workplace / psychology*