Experiences of renal healthcare practitioners during the COVID-19 pandemic: a multi-methods approach

BMC Nephrol. 2021 Sep 7;22(1):301. doi: 10.1186/s12882-021-02500-0.


Background: Globally, renal healthcare practitioners provide intensive and protracted support to a highly complex multi-morbid patient population however knowledge about the impact of COVID-19 on these practitioners is extremely limited.

Objective: This study aimed to explore the experiences of COVID-19 with renal healthcare practitioners during the first global lockdown between June 2020 and September 2020.

Methods: A multi-methods approach was carried out including a quantitative survey and qualitative interviews. This was a multinational study of renal healthcare practitioners from 29 countries. Quantitative: A self-designed survey on COVID-19 experiences and standardised questionnaires (General Health Questionnaire-12; Maslach Burnout Inventory). Descriptive statistics were generated for numerical data. Qualitative: Online semi-structured interviews were conducted. Data was subjected to thematic analysis. Renal healthcare practitioners (n = 251) completed an online survey. Thirteen renal healthcare practitioners took part in semi-structured interviews (12 nurses and 1 dietician).

Results: The majority of participants surveyed were female (86.9 %; n = 218), nurses (86.9 %; n = 218) with an average 21.5 (SD = 11.1) years' experience since professional qualification, and 16.3 years (SD = 9.3) working in renal healthcare. Survey responses indicated a level of preparedness, training and satisfactory personal protective equipment during the pandemic however approximately 40.3 % experienced fear about attending work, and 49.8 % experienced mental health distress. The highest prevalence of burnout was emotional exhaustion (35.9 %). Three themes emerged from the qualitative analysis highlighting the holistic complexities in managing renal healthcare, a neglected specialist workforce, and the need for appropriate support at work during a pandemic.

Conclusions: Results have highlighted the psychological impact, in terms of emotional exhaustion and mental health distress in our sample of renal healthcare practitioners. As the pandemic has continued, it is important to consider the long-term impact on an already stretched workforce including the risk of developing mental health disorders. Future research and interventions are required to understand and improve the provision of psychological support for specialist medical and nursing personnel.

Keywords: Burnout; COVID-19; Healthcare Practitioners; Multi-methods; Renal; Well-being.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Burnout, Professional / epidemiology
  • Burnout, Professional / psychology
  • COVID-19 / epidemiology*
  • COVID-19 / therapy
  • Clinical Competence / statistics & numerical data
  • Fear / psychology
  • Female
  • Global Health*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nephrology / statistics & numerical data*
  • Nephrology Nursing / economics
  • Nephrology Nursing / statistics & numerical data
  • Nursing Staff, Hospital / psychology
  • Nursing Staff, Hospital / statistics & numerical data
  • Occupational Diseases / epidemiology
  • Occupational Diseases / psychology
  • Pandemics*
  • Personal Protective Equipment
  • Psychological Distress
  • Qualitative Research
  • Workforce