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Carol Kelly

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Study finds quarter of respiratory nurses considered quitting during pandemic

Publish date: August 18, 2022

A study into the wellbeing of respiratory nurses has found that more than a quarter considered leaving the profession after the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Participating nurses reported experiencing high levels of anxiety and depression during the winter of 2020. They specifically highlighted feelings of anger, frustration, fear and anxiety, and concerns about inadequate staffing levels to meet patient needs. 

Edge Hill University researcher Dr Carol Ann Kelly was a co-investigator for the Open Access paper entitled Factors influencing fatigue in UK nurses working in respiratory clinical areas during the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic: an online survey

Dr Kelly said:

“Nurses are likely to have fatigue levels higher than the general population and it is vital they are supported to provide safe and effective care for patients. We found that the mental and physical wellbeing of nurses can be vulnerable and needs to be protected.   

“The pandemic taught us that there is a need for appropriate support and interventions to protect and improve the mental health of the workforce and provide the necessary support, especially during times of crisis. 

“Employers should be alert to the need to take proactive measures to recruit, retain and upskill the workforce.” 

The research team, bringing together partners at Edge Hill, Glasgow Caledonian and Southampton universities, analysed responses from 161 nurses, assessing levels of anxiety, depression, resilience and fatigue. 

Most participants (85.8%) reported positive experiences when caring for patients during the first lockdown but just over two thirds (69.8%) also reported negative experiences.   

A large percentage (73.9%) reported that patient safety had been negatively affected by the pandemic. This was partly due to barriers to providing care such as when patients needed to be isolated, the increased need for PPE, increased pressure and diminished staffing levels. 

Just over a quarter (25.5%) reported that they had considered leaving nursing because of the pandemic. 

The study follows similar investigations during the first wave in early 2020.

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