The nursing workplace context has always been rather intense due to the enormous responsibility and a large number of tasks for nurses to complete. From four different points of view, it is necessary to identify why the pandemic most severely affects professionals.
General Background Information
The study focuses on the vulnerability of nurses to emotional stress in the workplace. This is explained by the high complexity and demands of work, which is exacerbated by the increase in responsibility and the number of patients due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In order to more effectively analyze this problem and offer relevant solutions, several methods of analysis were chosen. Research has revealed strong causal relationships between increased burnout and overexertion with COVID-19 urgency. In particular, the main reasons are the increase in the number of patients in hospitals, the complexity of their treatment, the lack of experience and theory of dealing with this disease.
Historically, the effects of the pandemics on workplace tension and nurses’ healthcare problems are discussed using qualitative methods. Previous epidemics demonstrated nurses experienced increased tension due to the lack of protective equipment, problems with supplies of drugs, and insufficient staffing (Shorey & Chan, 2020). During the previous epidemics, nurses had to follow a strict protocol to ensure their health and safety, which required additional time and effort. The increased tension had a negative effect on the employees’ mental health. Nurses reported high levels of anxiety associated with contracting the disease (Shorey & Chan, 2020). As a result, nurses experienced insomnia and long-term depression (Shorey & Chan, 2020). Thus, historically, epidemics had a significant negative impact on the workplace tension among nurses and their mental health.
When it comes to the cultural perspective, the mental health of nurses does not mainly depend on cultural values or norms but rather on the prevalence of the workforce. Meanwhile, the situation in developed countries in North America and the Sub-Saharan African region has the highest rate of nurses who deal with stress and anxiety (Dubale et al., 2019). In the study, conducted by Fish et al. in 2022, the Australian group had much greater levels of emotional stress and dissociation than the Chinese group. Stress, anxiety, and burnout are more common among Australian nurses than they are among Chinese nurses.
The purpose of this section was to identify the prevalence of depression and other mental health problems among nurses before the pandemic. However, a recent quantitative study revealed that the prevalence of depression among nurses differed significantly among nurses around the globe. In Brazil, 51% of nurses experienced depressive symptoms before the pandemic (Maharaj et al., 2019). In Iran, up to 81% of nurses experienced depression before the pandemic (Maharaj et al., 2019). The prevalence of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) was high among nurses in different countries. In particular, up to 24% of American nurses demonstrated symptomology of PTSD before the pandemic (Maharaj et al., 2019). The prevalence of PTSD among nurses in different countries was 32–43% in China, 40–46% in Iran, and 44–66% in Brazil (Maharaj et al., 2019). Research demonstrates that at least of nurses around the globe experience increased amounts of tension (Maharaj et al., 2019). Thus, the problems of increased tension and mental health problems among nurses were present before the COVID-19 pandemic.
Stress and anxiety have the greatest professional consequences in the U.S. The government has made significant efforts to improve the nursing environment to counteract this issue. In the United States establishing cooperation and support among nurses via more meaningful communication may be able to minimize stress and attrition (Ohue et al., 2021). At this point, such approaches help both the U.S. and Canada not only prevent increasing attrition rates but avoid mental health issues among healthcare professionals.
After analyzing the issue from four different perspectives, it was concluded that the COVID-19 pandemic had the biggest impact on nurses’ stress. In order to solve this problem, it is necessary to improve the existing legislation following the example of successful countries. In addition, it is necessary to introduce the delegation of duties and the unloading of specialists, both emotional and labor.
Dubale, B. W., Friedman, L. E., Chemali, Z., Denninger, J. W., Mehta, D. H., Alem, A., Friccone, G. L., Dossett, M. L., & Gelaye, B. (2019). Systematic review of burnout among healthcare providers in sub-Saharan Africa. BMC Public Health, 19(1), 1-20.
Fish, J. A., Sharplin, G., Wang, L., An, Y., Fan, X., & Eckert, M. (2022). Cross‐cultural differences in nurse burnout and the relationship with patient safety: An East‐West comparative study. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 78(4), 1001-1011.
Maharaj, S., Lees, T., & Lal, S. (2019). Prevalence and risk factors of depression, anxiety, and stress in a cohort of Australian nurses. International journal of environmental research and public health, 16(1), 61.
Shorey, S., & Chan, V. (2020). Lessons from past epidemics and pandemics and a way forward for pregnant women, midwives and nurses during COVID-19 and beyond: A meta-synthesis. Midwifery, 90, 102821.
Ohue, T., Aryamuang, S., Bourdeanu, L., Church, J. N., Hassan, H., Kownaklai, J., Pericak, A. & Suwannimitr, A. (2021). Cross‐national comparison of factors related to stressors, burnout and turnover among nurses in developed and developing countries. Nursing Open, 8(5), 2439-2451.