“Like fighting a fire with a water pistol”: a qualitative study of the work experiences of critical care nurses during the COVID-19 pandemic

Miller, J. et al. (2023) “Like fighting a fire with a water pistol”: a qualitative study of the work experiences of critical care nurses during the COVID-19 pandemic. Journal of Advanced Nursing, (doi: 10.1111/jan.15773) (PMID:37515348) (Early Online Publication)

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Aim: To understand the experience of critical care nurses during the COVID-19 pandemic, through the application of the Job-Demand-Resource model of occupational stress. Design: Qualitative interview study. Methods: Twenty-eight critical care nurses (CCN) working in ICU in the UK NHS during the COVID-19 pandemic took part in semi-structured interviews between May 2021 and May 2022. Interviews were guided by the constructs of the Job-Demand Resource model. Data were analysed using framework analysis. Results: The most difficult job demands were the pace and amount, complexity, physical and emotional effort of their work. Prolonged high demands led to CCN experiencing emotional and physical exhaustion, burnout, post-traumatic stress symptoms and impaired sleep. Support from colleagues and supervisors was a core job resource. Sustained demands and impaired physical and psychological well-being had negative organizational consequences with CCN expressing increased intention to leave their role. Conclusions: The combination of high demands and reduced resources had negative impacts on the psychological well-being of nurses which is translating into increased consideration of leaving their profession. Implications for the Profession and/or Patient Care The full impacts of the pandemic on the mental health of CCN are unlikely to resolve without appropriate interventions. Impact: Managers of healthcare systems should use these findings to inform: (i) the structure and organization of critical care workplaces so that they support staff to be well, and (ii) supportive interventions for staff who are carrying significant psychological distress as a result of working during and after the pandemic. These changes are required to improve staff recruitment and retention. Reporting Method: We used the COREQ guidelines for reporting qualitative studies. Patient and Public Contribution Six CCN provided input to survey content and interview schedule. Two authors and members of the study team (T.S. and S.C.) worked in critical care during the pandemic.

Item Type:Articles
Additional Information:Funding: Health Services and Delivery Research Programme, Grant/Award Number: NIHR132068
Status:Early Online Publication
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Young, Dr Ben and McCallum, Dr Louise
Authors: Miller, J., Young, B., McCallum, L., Rattray, J., Ramsay, P., Salisbury, L., Scott, T., Hull, A., Cole, S., Pollard, B., and Dixon, D.
Subjects:R Medicine > RT Nursing
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Health & Wellbeing > Mental Health and Wellbeing
College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Medicine, Dentistry & Nursing > Nursing and Health Care
Journal Name:Journal of Advanced Nursing
ISSN (Online):1365-2648
Published Online:28 July 2023
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2023 The Authors
First Published:First published in Journal of Advanced Nursing 2023
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License

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