The impact of COVID-19 on mental health and well-being in critical care nurses: a longitudinal, qualitative study

Nicola Credland*, Martyn Griffin, Peter Hamilton, Oonagh Harness, Robert McMurray

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Background: The COVID-19 pandemic has had both a psychological and physiological effect on the human race. For those working in health care, particularly in critical care, the pandemic has put unprecedented strain on staff. Witnessing suffering during crisis in an organizational setting can be a traumatic experience and critical care nurses often risked, not only their own lives, but their psychological well-being, so that those infected with the virus might have a better chance at survival. Aim: The aim of this study was to explore the challenges to mental health and psychological well-being experienced by Critical Care Nurses during the COVID-19 pandemic. Study Design: A longitudinal, qualitative study involving semi-structured interviews with 54 critical care nurses across 38 hospitals in the United Kingdom and Ireland. Interviews were transcribed verbatim and analysed using thematic analysis. Results: Four key themes were identified which represent the challenges faces by critical care nurses during the COVID-19 pandemic: Lack of control, Psychological trauma, Unexpected leadership, Public-political betrayal. Conclusions: While public-political praise may lead to a short-term lift in morale for front line workers; where it is not accompanied by practical support in terms of appropriate equipment, leadership, emotional support and renumeration it is likely to be damaging in the longer term. Relevance to Clinical Practice: This study has provided a greater understanding of the factors which affected the well-being and mental health of critical care nurses during a global pandemic.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)32-39
Number of pages8
JournalNursing in critical care
Issue number1
Early online date17 May 2023
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2024

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