Experiences of nurses working with COVID-19 patients: A qualitative study

J Clin Nurs. 2021 Jul 26;10.1111/jocn.15979. doi: 10.1111/jocn.15979. Online ahead of print.

Abstract

Background: The global COVID-19 pandemic has led to massive disruptions in daily life, business, education, lifestyle and economies worldwide. Nurses are a professional group who care directly for COVID-19 patients and thus face direct exposure to the virus. The nurses who work on the front lines during this period put their own well-being at risk to care for these patients.

Purpose/aim: The aim of this study was to identify the experiences and challenges faced by nurses working in pandemic clinics in Turkey during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Methods: This qualitative study was based on semi-structured in-depth interviews conducted through the mobile application Whatsapp with 19 nurses who were actively working in pandemic clinics. Due to the pandemic, the snowball sampling method was used to reach the sample group. Interviews were continued until data saturation was achieved. All interviews were audio recorded and later transcribed. The study data were interpreted according to themes identified using thematic analysis. Throughout the study, the authors followed the COREQ checklist.

Results: The experiences of nurses caring for COVID-19 patients were summarised into five major themes: psychosocial adaptation, protection, difficulty in care and treatment, access to information and working conditions.

Conclusion: Nurses caring for COVID-19 patients in Turkey have been affected psychologically, socially and physiologically. They experienced stigmatisation, exhaustion and burnout. One of the biggest challenges for the nurses was difficulty providing physical care and treatment due to the use of personal protective equipment. Nurses want improved compensation in addition to applause from the public. Interventions to help bolster nurses' psychological and physiological strength are recommended.

Relevance to clinical practice: This study emphasised nurses' psychologically, socially and physiologically affected. Therefore, improvements in financial and moral support would provide psychological reinforcement for nurses during the epidemic. Informing the public is necessary to reduce the stigmatisation of nurses working in pandemic clinics.

Keywords: COVID-19 pandemic; adjustment disorders; nurses; personal protective equipment; qualitative research.