Nurse wellbeing during the coronavirus (2019) pandemic: A qualitative descriptive study

Collegian. 2021 Dec;28(6):709-719. doi: 10.1016/j.colegn.2021.06.002. Epub 2021 Jun 15.


Background: The wellbeing of individuals influences organisational outcomes. Insight into nurses' wellbeing is crucial to a sustaining a high-quality workforce.

Aim: To describe nurses' perceptions and experiences of wellbeing, work wellbeing, and mental health.

Method: Using a qualitative descriptive design, semi-structured interviews were conducted, transcribed verbatim, analysed inductively and thematically, and reported per consolidated criteria for reporting qualitative research.

Findings: Nine Australian nurses were interviewed in 2020, each for 60 to 90 minutes. These nurses had a broad range of clinical roles and years of experience in metropolitan healthcare organisations. Six themes, each related to nurse wellbeing, depicted: (i) value and sense of purpose from nursing, yet also negative consequences of losing sight of oneself within the nursing role; (ii) work nurses did to disengage from their job and create a balance within their life; (iii) significance of the team and senior team as a source of both strength and opportunity for wellbeing; (iv) a range of wellbeing initiatives with a perception these were often developed, and for use, in response to crisis as opposed to preventative or proactive measures; (v) value of additional nurse wellbeing education and promotion of available support; and (vi) novel challenges and ways to wellbeing during times where resources were stretched and usual support systems impacted.

Discussion: Identified positive and negative consequences of nursing must be addressed when developing targeted wellbeing interventions.

Conclusion: New ways of working and supporting individual, team and organisational wellbeing are needed for flourishing working environments. Potential strategies to either leverage or mitigate the positive and negative consequences of nursing are offered.

Keywords: COVID-19; Experiences; Mental health; Nurses; Perceptions; Wellbeing; Work wellbeing.