New study reveals impact of COVID-19 pandemic on Quebec’s nurses

During the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, researcher and Associate Professor Céline Gélinas believed it was important to survey Quebec nursing staff to measure the impact of this unprecedented health crisis.

During the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, in her capacity as co-director of the Réseau de recherche en interventions en sciences infirmières du Québec (RRISIQ), researcher and Professor Céline Gélinas believed it was important to survey Quebec nursing staff to measure the impact of this unprecedented health crisis.

Comprised of 150 researchers from eight affiliated universities as well as research centres throughout Quebec, RRISIQ is recognized for its research expertise in clinical intervention, organizational intervention and education. “Nurses are care experts which gives us a unique perspective when it comes to research,” says Professor Gélinas. “The ultimate focus of our research is to improve the care we provide.”

Seventeen-hundred nurses and licensed practical nurses (LPNs) were surveyed between the first and second waves of the pandemic. Respondents were divided into two groups – those who had been exposed to COVID-19, either by providing care to patients who died of the virus or through colleagues who had contracted COVID-19, and a control group. Researchers measured psychological distress, depression, fatigue, perceptions of levels of preparedness to deal with the pandemic, and intent to leave work settings and/or the nursing profession. Additionally, Professor Gélinas and the group of researchers translated the Fear of COVID-19 Scale into English and French Canadian and proceeded to validate the effectiveness of this scale by measuring the level of fear experienced by nursing staff.

Results revealed an elevated level of distress and exhaustion among nursing staff who had been exposed to COVID-19. As well, the intention to leave the workplace or the nursing profession was influenced by whether nurses felt prepared to care properly for their patients during the pandemic. More than 40% of nurses reported feeling overwhelmed by the situation at work. One-third of respondents felt that they had not been adequately prepared to provide high quality care during the pandemic, and this perception was linked to higher levels of depression, fatigue and psychological distress.

Demographically, nursing staff belonging to Generation X (40-56 years old), reported higher rates of psychological distress and depressive symptoms. The researchers speculate that this group was also coping with the responsibilities of caring for children and elderly parents, which added to their stress levels.

None of these findings surprised Professor Gélinas. “Nurses are trained to give high quality care. When they can’t do so, their stress levels and dissatisfaction with their work situation increase and this has an impact on nursing retention.”

The study has produced three published papers. The first of these, entitled Translation of the Fear of COVID-19 Scale into French-Canadian and English-Canadian and Validation in the Nursing Staff of Quebec, was co-authored by ISoN researcher and Associate Professor Christine Maheu as well as McGill PhD candidate Melissa Richard-Lalonde. A second paper examined satisfaction at work and intent to leave the nursing profession while the third focused on levels of distress and depressive symptoms. Another study, now in the works, is looking at nurses’ perceptions of whether the quality of care on their units has improved or deteriorated since the beginning of the pandemic.

References:

Gélinas, C., Maheu, C., Lavoie-Tremblay, M., Richard-Lalonde, M., Gallani, M. G., Gosselin, E., Hébert, M., Tchouaket, E., & Côté, J. (2021). Translation of the Fear of COVID-19 Scale into French-Canadian and English-Canadian and Validation in the Nursing Population of Québec. Science Infirmière et Pratiques en Santé, 4(1), 25 pages. Open access. https://doi.org/10.7202/1077985ar

Lavoie-Tremblay, M., Gélinas, C., Aubé, T., Tchouaket, E., Tremblay, D., Gagnon, M. P., & Côté, J. (2022). Influence of caring for COVID-19 on nurses’ turnover, work satisfaction and quality of care. Journal of Nursing Management, 30(1), 33-43. Free Access. https://doi.org/10.1111/jonm.13462

Côté, J., Aita, M., Chouinard, M. C., Houle, J., Lavoie-Tremblay, M., Lessard, L., Rouleau, G., & Gélinas, C. (2022). Psychological distress, depression symptoms, and fatigue among Quebec nursing staff during the COVID-19 pandemic: A cross-sectional study. Nursing Open, 9(3), 1744-1756. https://doi.org/10.1002/nop2.1199

 

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