COVID-19 Pandemic: Experiences of Nurses Working in Critical Care in the United States

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Introduction/Rationale: The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) global pandemic has put immense strain on healthcare workers (HCWs) at the frontlines. This is particularly true for health care workers caring for COVID19 patients in intensive care units (ICU). News reports highlight the extreme stress on healthcare workers in critical care. In this context national leaders have acknowledged a significant risk of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), moral distress and burnout for critical care nurses related to the COVID-19 pandemic. It is likely the COVID-19 pandemic has and will continue to have a tremendous influence on ICU nurses’ mental health and continuation in the critical care work force. Although some early surveys have documented clinician’s perceptions of challenges and personal concerns, we are unaware of a qualitative study that is evaluating the broad experience and mental health impact of the pandemic on nurses practicing in ICUs across the nation. The purpose of the study is to describe the experiences of critical care nurses during the COVID-19 pandemic, specifically focusing on their personal and professional wellbeing, how they have changed as a result of their experience and how they feel ICU care will be affected in the future. Methods: This is a cross sectional, descriptive qualitative study that will recruit a national sample of nurses that worked in ICU during the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States in 2020. Nurses will be recruited through social media (Twitter and Facebook) and the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN) Newsletters. We plan to interview up to 40 respondents. Two researchers will be conducting the interviews using a semi-structured interview guide. Interviews will be conducted via Zoom, TEAMS or phone. They will be audio recorded and transcribed verbatim. Interviews will be analyzed with inductive content analysis by the research team. Results: Nine nurses have been interviewed to date. Additional recruitment and data collection are in progress and will be completed by January 2021. Conclusions: COVID-19 may have lasting effects on the health and well-being of nurses which could have a negative impact on the critical care workforce. In order to develop meaningful interventions and to fully support nurses working on the frontline through the next year and in similar situations it is imperative that we understand the experiences of nurses working on the frontlines during the pandemic.


Calkins, K., Guttormson, J. L., Mcandrew, N. S., Fitzgerald, J., Losurdo, H., & Loonsfoot, D. (2021). COVID-19 Pandemic: Experiences of Nurses Working in Critical Care in the United States. In TP67. TP067 SYMPTOMS, QUALITY OF LIFE, AND CAREGIVER ENGAGEMENT IN PULMONARY, CRITICAL CARE, AND SLEEP (pp. A3193-A3193). American Thoracic Society. https://doi.org/10.1164/ajrccm-conference.2021.203.1_MeetingAbstracts.A3193