Background: The COVID-19 pandemic has imposed great pressure on healthcare facilities, exposing healthcare professionals to various challenges that may result in the onset of moral distress, a condition of psychological distress caused by the inability to act as it would be most morally appropriate. The purpose of this research was to investigate the experience lived by nurses who worked in an intensive care unit during the COVID-19 pandemic. Methods: This is a phenomenological study using interpretative phenomenological analysis. Sixteen nurses who worked in the COVID-19 Intensive Care Unit of Northern Italian Hospitals from January to April 2022 were selected through purposive sampling. Data on experiences, thoughts, and symptoms were collected through semi-structured interviews with in-person and remote modalities. Results: Five themes and fourteen subthemes emerged from the study. The themes are: (1) pride, isolation, and fear; (2) teamwork and organisation; (3) moral/ethical aspect; (4) true heroes; and (5) dignity. Conclusions: This study highlights the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on intensive care unit nurses. It has emerged that the risk of moral distress is high among healthcare workers in the front line of the fight against the virus. This condition should be avoided and managed through early psychological interventions, sharing of experiences, and a good organization that supports decision-making and professional well-being.

Moral Distress of Intensive Care Nurses: A Phenomenological Qualitative Study Two Years after the First Wave of the COVID-19 Pandemic

Rosa D.
Primo
;
Villa G.
;
Manara D. F.
Ultimo
2022-01-01

Abstract

Background: The COVID-19 pandemic has imposed great pressure on healthcare facilities, exposing healthcare professionals to various challenges that may result in the onset of moral distress, a condition of psychological distress caused by the inability to act as it would be most morally appropriate. The purpose of this research was to investigate the experience lived by nurses who worked in an intensive care unit during the COVID-19 pandemic. Methods: This is a phenomenological study using interpretative phenomenological analysis. Sixteen nurses who worked in the COVID-19 Intensive Care Unit of Northern Italian Hospitals from January to April 2022 were selected through purposive sampling. Data on experiences, thoughts, and symptoms were collected through semi-structured interviews with in-person and remote modalities. Results: Five themes and fourteen subthemes emerged from the study. The themes are: (1) pride, isolation, and fear; (2) teamwork and organisation; (3) moral/ethical aspect; (4) true heroes; and (5) dignity. Conclusions: This study highlights the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on intensive care unit nurses. It has emerged that the risk of moral distress is high among healthcare workers in the front line of the fight against the virus. This condition should be avoided and managed through early psychological interventions, sharing of experiences, and a good organization that supports decision-making and professional well-being.
COVID-19
moral distress
nursing
qualitative research
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/20.500.11768/135653
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