INTERNATIONAL NURSING REVIEW, vol.69, pp.305-317, 2022 (SCI-Expanded)
Aim To describe the experiences of intensive care nurses who provided care to Covid-19 patients and their perceptions towards the disease and their work conditions during the pandemic. Introduction Identification of experiences and perceptions of intensive care nurses towards disease, care and their workplace conditions when providing care to Covid-19 patients will inform decision-makers about improvements that can be implemented. Background The Covid-19 pandemic has led to increased strain and workplace-related health risks to intensive care nurses, but it has also provided a unique experience and opportunities for learning and development. Methods A descriptive qualitative study was conducted with 10 intensive care unit nurses working in seven hospitals in Istanbul, Turkey. Snowball sampling method was used, and the data were collected by semistructured online interviews. A thematic analysis was performed. The Consolidated Criteria for Reporting Qualitative Research were followed. Findings Five major themes were identified: 'death and fear of death', 'impact on family and social lives', 'nursing care of Covid-19 patients', 'changing perceptions of their own profession: empowerment and dissatisfaction', and 'experiences and perceptions of personal protective equipment and other control measures'. Discussion Intensive care nurses experience an increased risk of infection and psychological burden, and they lack a sense of professional satisfaction. Improvements to working conditions are needed to support nurses caring for patients during the pandemic. Conclusion The pandemic increased the workload and responsibilities of intensive care nurses and led to increases in their work-related health risks and challenges with care. However, it also increased nurses' awareness about the importance of their professional roles. Implications for nursing practice and policies There is a need to improve working conditions and develop nursing standards for the care of Covid-19 patients in intensive care units.