Primary care nurses during the coronavirus disaster and their struggle: Qualitative research

J Gen Fam Med. 2022 Jul 1;23(5):343-350. doi: 10.1002/jgf2.566. eCollection 2022 Sep.

Abstract

Background: Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has substantially affected the health and lives of medical professionals. However, the experiences of nurses engaged in primary care remain unclear. We explored how nurses working in primary care were psychologically and socially affected by the COVID-19 disaster and how they overcame the difficulties experienced.

Methods: We conducted a qualitative study of seven Japanese nurses working in primary care. Data collection was performed before, during, and after a workshop based on the Tojisha-Kenkyu (user-led research) framework to explore how the COVID-19 disaster affected the nurses and how they coped. Data were analyzed using inductive thematic analysis.

Results: Three themes emerged from the analysis: effects of the COVID-19 disaster on nurses, nurses' newly found strength during the pandemic, and their changes and achievements through the Tojisha-Kenkyu framework. The first theme comprised four subthemes: fear of the unknown; difficulty in adaptation; dysfunction in patient care; and defilement and oppression. The second theme involved feeling in control and professionalism. The third theme, which was based on participants' discovery of "same and different" fellowships, showed work reconstruction and self-understanding, which alleviated their difficulties.

Conclusions: The effect of the pandemic on nurses working in primary care ranges from work-related frustration to daily life issues. The Tojisha-Kenkyu method can help nurses to alleviate difficulties. Further research should be conducted to elucidate the constant burden on primary care professionals and establish appropriate occupational and daily life support during pandemics.

Keywords: COVID‐19; family medicine; occupational stress; primary care nursing; qualitative research.