“It's like we're at war”: Nurses’ resilience and coping strategies during the COVID-19 pandemic

Ibtisam Marey-Sarwan*, Yaira Hamama-Raz, Ahmad Asadi, Bothaina Nakad, Liat Hamama

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


The sudden outbreak of the COVID-19 epidemic forced healthcare workers to use all their professional and personal skills to battle it. The unexpected onset of the disease has led to extraordinary pressure on healthcare workers and has challenged their resilience. The study aimed to explore the subjective experiences of 18 Israeli nurses who are directly treating COVID-19 patients, and to identify the sources of resilience used by nurses to address national health crises. The data were gathered via semi-structured interviews and thematically analyzed. The analysis yielded three central analytic themes that described the nurses’ experiences during the pandemic: maneuvering between professional demands and personal-family life; the nurses’ coping strategies and resilience; and nurses' use of metaphorical military language as a way of coping with the difficulties. The findings show that in a time of severe health crisis, and despite the fear of infection, nurses adhere to the values of the profession and are willing to fight the virus to save lives. The nurses' extensive use of military metaphorical language reflected their experiences, strengthened them, and provided them with a source of empowerment in the face of a common enemy that needed to be overcome.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere12472
JournalNursing Inquiry
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2022


  • COVID-19 pandemic
  • coping strategies
  • metaphorical language
  • nurses
  • qualitative study
  • resilience


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