COVID-19 Pandemic: Impact on Nurses Working in Critical Care in the United States

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Rationale: It is likely the COVID-19 pandemic has and will continue to have a tremendous influence on intensive care unit (ICU) nurses’ mental health and continuation in the critical care work force. The purpose of this study is to describe the impact of COVID-19 on nurse moral distress, burnout, anxiety, and depression. Methods: This descriptive study recruited a national sample of nurses that have worked in the ICU during the COVID-19 pandemic through American Association of Critical Care Nurses newsletters and social media (Twitter; Facebook). Reliable and Valid measures included: Measure of Moral Distress in Healthcare Professionals, Professional Quality of Life Scale, and the Patient Health Questionnaire Anxiety and Depression Scale. Results: The survey was launched in November 2020 and data collection is ongoing. To date, 498 nurses have completed the survey. Staff nurses comprise 90% of respondents with the majority working in a University Medical Center or a community hospital. Of the respondents, 28% were reassigned to a COVID unit other than their usual ICU. The majority (71%) experienced a shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE). Analysis of respondent anxiety, depression, burnout, and moral distress will be completed after the survey closes at the end of December 2020. Conclusion: To fully support nurses working on the frontline, we must understand the impact of the pandemic on ICU nurses. Results from this study will be used to develop recommendations for supporting nurses as the pandemic continues, as well as after the crisis. Improving the well-being of ICU nurses and decreasing nurse turnover are urgent critical care research and practice priorities. This study offers important insights about the mental health of nurses during a global pandemic that can guide the development of tailored interventions for ICU nurses.