Experiences and psychosocial predictors of professional function among intensive care nurses under the shadow of Covid-19: A mixed-methods study

Ilya Kagan*, Natalie Lancman, Irit Weisbord

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: The outbreak of the Corona virus (COVID-19) pandemic led to a sharp rise in morbidity and hospitalizations, and a significant therapeutic burden fell on intensive care units (ICUs). Intensive care nurses reported physical and emotional stress in response to the extra workload caused by caring for critically ill COVID-19 patients. However, at the time of publication of the study, to the best of our knowledge there have been no studies that examined uncertainty, stress, or hope in the context of functioning among intensive care nurses. Aim: To examine: (a) the challenges of operating and managing intensive care units during the COVID-19 pandemic among nurse managers in intensive care units, and (b) the relationships between uncertainty, stress, burnout, hope, and professional functioning among intensive care nurses during the COVID-19 pandemic. Design: This mixed-methods study was conducted in intensive care units (ICUs) at a large tertiary medical center in Israel, during February–May 2021. Methods: The data were collected in two phases. In the first phase, qualitative data were collected from focus groups attended by 15 senior managerial nurses. The second phase involved a cross-sectional study among 100 staff nurses working in 5 ICUs. The data were collected using a structured questionnaire. Results: Qualitative data analysis revealed two main themes: (a) challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic and (b) positive aspects of the COVID-19 pandemic. The nurses reported high levels of burnout, emotional stress and uncertainty, but moderate State Hope Scale scores, and moderate levels of professional functioning. There were no statistical differences in study variables by exposure to COVID-19 patients. State Hope Scale levels, uncertainty, and burnout variables contributed significantly and explained 46% of the variance of the professional functioning. Conclusions: The intensity of the experiences and psych-social phenomena, is not affected by exposure to treatment of COVID-19 patients. The relationships between the study variables emphasize the importance of initiated and ongoing interventions to reduce uncertainty, address burnout, and strengthen hope. Improvement in these indices may lead to better ICU nurses' professional functioning and their work life well-being.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)787-798
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Nursing Scholarship
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • COVID-19
  • burnout
  • intensive care nurses
  • mixed-methods study
  • professional functioning
  • stress
  • uncertainty


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