Intensive care nurses' experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic: A qualitative study.

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Fernández-Castillo, Rafael-Jesús
González-Caro, María-Dolores
Fernández-García, Elena
Porcel-Gálvez, Ana-María
Garnacho-Montero, José
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Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, health care systems worldwide are working under challenging conditions. Patients, who are seriously ill, require intensive care admission. In fighting COVID-19, nurses are frontline health care workers and, as such, have a great responsibility providing needed specialized patient care in intensive care units (ICU). However, working conditions and emotional factors have an impact on the quality of the care provided. The purpose of the present study was to explore and describe the experiences and perceptions of nurses working in an ICU during the COVID-19 global pandemic. Qualitative research was undertaken, using an empirical approach and inductive content analysis techniques. The selected population consisted of ICU nurses from a tertiary teaching hospital in Spain. Data were obtained via semi-structured videocall interviews from Apr 12th to Apr 30th, 2020. Subsequently, transcribed verbatims were analysed using the template analysis model of Brooks. A total of 17 nurses comprised the final sample after data saturation. Four main themes emerged from the analysis and 13 subthemes: "providing nursing care," "psychosocial aspects and emotional lability," "resources management and safety" and "professional relationships and fellowship." Providing health care by intensive care nursing professionals, during the COVID-19 pandemic, has shown both strong and weak points in the health care system. Nursing care has been influenced by fear and isolation, making it hard to maintain the humanization of the health care. Implications for practice include optimizing resource management (human and material), providing psychological support, and adequate training for ICU nurses, as well as high-quality protocols for future emergency situations.
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COVID-19, critical care, critical care nursing, epidemics, qualitative research, template analysis