Caring for COVID-19 patients: Nurses' perceptions of the most critical issues and their impact on their well-being and performance

Efrat Kedmi-Shahar, Ido Morag, Hen Hallevi, Dana Arad

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Aims: (1) Exploring nurses’ perceptions of issues that impacted the quality of patient care and their own performance on COVID-19 wards; (2) examining nurses’ perceptions of how these issues impacted their psychological state and level of performance; and (3) presenting recommendations for improving healthcare policies. Background: Nurses played a critical role in caring for hospitalized COVID-19 patients and managing the disease. Methods: Semistructured interviews were conducted with 50 nurses (32 females), aged 31–58 years, 6–37 years’ tenure, from eight hospitals across Israel. Prior to working in COVID-19 wards, they worked in internal medicine, emergency rooms, or intensive care units. Based on the COREQ checklist, these interviews were recorded and transcribed, and categorized into themes and subthemes. Findings: The findings indicate that the unpreparedness of healthcare systems for the pandemic outbreak rendered nurses paying a high price at the personal and professional levels, which in turn may have impacted the levels of care that they provided. Conclusion: The rich, qualitative data source revealed important interactions between clinical, personal, social, and familial factors in determining distress levels and performance impairment. A nuanced understanding of the link between these stressors is key to developing and implementing policies that could mitigate deficiencies in the management of epidemics and pandemics in the future. Implications for nursing and health policies: Changes should be made to government directives and healthcare policies, with an emphasis on increasing the nursing workforce, providing emotional support, ensuring availability of equipment and beds, optimizing work practices, developing transparent means of communication within teams, and clearly defining the areas of responsibility of nurses—in times of routine and crises.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)578-588
Number of pages11
JournalInternational Nursing Review
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2023
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 International Council of Nurses.


  • COVID-19
  • health policy
  • nursing policy
  • occupational health
  • patient safety
  • psychological distress
  • qualitative research
  • registered nurses
  • resilience
  • risk evaluation and mitigation


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