Attitudes and experiences related to the deaths of COVID-19 patients among nursing staff: A qualitative evidence synthesis
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AuthorGómez-Brufal Flores, Manuel; Hueso Montoro, César; Esteban Burgos, Ana Alejandra; Montoya Juárez, Rafael; Mota Romero, Emilio; Capilla Díaz, Concepción; Puente Fernández, Daniel
Attitude to deathCOVID-19DeathLife change eventsNursesQualitative researchQualitative synthesis
Gómez-Brufal Flores, M., Hueso-Montoro, C., Esteban-Burgos, A. A., Montoya-Juárez, R., Mota-Romero, E., Capilla-Díaz, C., & Puente-Fernández, D. (2023). Attitudes and experiences related to the deaths of COVID-19 patients among nursing staff: A qualitative evidence synthesis. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 00, 1–17. [https://doi.org/10.1111/jan.15815]
Aim To identify and synthesize the experiences and attitudes of nursing staff regarding the deaths of COVID-19 patients. Review Methods A qualitative evidence synthesis was carried out, using Noblit and Hare's meta-ethnographic approach. The review protocol was listed in PROSPERO (CRD42022330928). Studies published from January 2020 to January 2022 that met the criteria were searched in PubMed, Web of Science, Scopus, CINAHL, CUIDEN and PsycInfo. A total of 12 articles were included. Results Thirty-three metaphors emerged, which were grouped into three main themes: Determining factors of care, Feelings about death and Strategies for coping with death. Nurses reported the high emotional toll, the absence of family and the lack of staff, protocol and training as determining factors. Furthermore, staff had doubts about the quality of care that COVID-19 patients received. As coping strategies, nurses developed avoidance behaviours towards COVID-19 patients, selective memories, resilience, and/or leaving the profession. Conclusions The difficulty in providing adequate nursing care and the high number of deaths has increased anxiety and stress among nurses. These factors, alongside their lived experiences of seeing patients suffering, many dying alone without family members, have had psychological repercussions on nursing staff. Implications for the Profession and/or Patient Care The results demonstrate a high emotional toll and doubts surrounding their caregiving role caused by the lack of professional training needed to face a pandemic. This research shows what has been learned for future pandemics and highlights basic components that could provide a foundation for coping interventions for healthcare professionals. Impact What Problem did the Study Address? The challenges posed by COVID-19 patient deaths for nursing staff around the world and also by the pandemic circumstances in which those deaths occurred. What were the Main Findings? The high number of deceased patients who were isolated from family members, communication with family members and doubts surrounding care given during the pandemic have created feelings of fear, stress and anxiety, as well as obsessive thoughts that have changed nursing staff's perception of death due to COVID-19. Where and on whom will the Research have an Impact? Results will be useful for preparing for future pandemics, and for policymakers and health staff in supporting healthcare professionals by creating programmes to help them cope with the emotional toll they have felt after dealing with death in such unprecedented circumstances. Reporting Method The authors have adhered to the PRISMA guidelines and the eMERGe Reporting Guidance. Patient or Public Contribution No patient or public contribution.