Impact of pandemic pressures on critical care nurses to be studied

Researchers from a group of UK universities have received a grant of over £184,000 to investigate the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on stress in NHS critical care nurses.

The study – called CANDID (Critical care and re-Deployed Nurses: the impact of COVID-19 on work related stress) – will bring together researchers and clinicians from across Scotland to look into how the pandemic impacted on the stress and wellbeing levels of intensive care nurses.

The project will involve nurses in Scottish and some English critical care units completing questionnaires and interviews – with responses then compared to similar work that was completed just before the pandemic began.

According to the University of Aberdeen – one of the institutions involved in the study – researchers will also investigate how successful the support services offered to nurses were, across the past year.

Explaining the ideas behind the project, Professor Dixon of the University of Aberdeen, who will co-lead the study, said: “COVID-19 has placed great pressure on nurses who have been working within extremely challenging circumstances. This includes delivering care whilst wearing cumbersome PPE, increased patient mortality rates, communicating and supporting relatives at a distance, all in addition to dealing with the potential risks to their own and their family’s health.

“It is important to understand how nurses working in critical care have experienced and been affected by the pandemic as it’s possible that the physical and psychological wellbeing of nurses working critical care during the pandemic has been affected and in turn, their intention to continue in critical care nursing reduced. 

“We hope that these results could help further our understanding of how the impact of stress can be mitigated by personal, job and support resources, so that the NHS can be better prepared to support and retain critical care staff.” 

Professor Amanda Croft, the Scottish Government’s Chief Nursing Officer, welcomed the study and highlighted support measures that had already been put in place, including a National Wellbeing Hub and National Wellbeing Helpline, as well as the recent launch of the Workforce Specialist Service. The latter, she said “offers confidential mental health treatment” and “practical support”.

“We are also working to build a sustainable culture that will continue to prioritise staff wellbeing in the future,” she added, “[and] we are pleased to see this type of research being conducted.”