Publications

Ruth Abrams, Anna Conolly, Emma Rowland, Ruth Harris, Bridie Kent, Daniel Kelly, Keith Couper, Jill Maben (2023)Speaking up during the COVID‐19 pandemic: Nurses' experiences of organizational disregard and silence, In: Journal of Advanced Nursing15526 Wiley

Aim To critically examine nurses' experiences of speaking up during COVID-19 and the consequences of doing so. Design Longitudinal qualitative study. Methods Participants were purposively sampled to represent differing geographical locations, specialities, settings and redeployment experiences. They were interviewed (remotely) between July 2020 and April 2022 using a semi-structured interview topic guide. Results Three key themes were identified inductively from our analysis including: (1) Under threat: The ability to speak up or not; (2) Risk tolerance and avoidance: Consequences of speaking up; and (3) Deafness and hostility: Responses to speaking up. Nurses reported that their attempts to speak up typically focused on PPE, patient safety and redeployment. Findings indicate that when NHS Trusts and community services initiated their pandemic response policies, nurses' opportunities to speak up were frequently thwarted. Conclusion Accounts presented in this article include nurses' feeling a sense of futility or of suffering in silence in relation to speaking up. Nurses also fear the consequences of speaking up. Those who did speak up encountered a ‘deaf’ or hostile response, leaving nurses feeling disregarded by their organization. This points to missed opportunities to learn from those on the front line. Impact Speaking up interventions need to focus on enhancing the skills to both speak up, and respond appropriately, particularly when power, hierarchy, fear and threat might be concerned. Patient or Public Contribution Nurses working clinically during COVID-19 were involved in the development of this study. Participants were also involved in the development of our interview topic guide and comments obtained from the initial survey helped to shape the study design.

Ruth Abrams, Anna Conolly, Emma Rowland, Ruth Harris, Bridie Kent, Daniel Kelly, Keith Couper, Jill Maben (2022)Speaking up during the COVID-19 pandemic: Nurses’ experiences of organisational disregard and silence, In: Journal of advanced nursing Wiley

Aim: To critically examine nurses experiences of speaking up during COVID-19 and the consequences of doing so. Design: Longitudinal qualitative study Methods: Participants were purposively sampled to represent differing geographical locations, specialities, settings and redeployment experiences. They were interviewed (remotely) between July 2020 and April 2022 using a semi-structured interview topic guide. Results: Three key themes emerged inductively from our analysis including: (1) Under threat: The ability to speak up or not; (2) Risk tolerance and avoidance: Consequences of speaking up; and (3) Deafness and hostility: Responses to speaking up. Nurses reported that their attempts to speak up typically focused on PPE, patient safety and redeployment. Findings indicate that when NHS Trusts and community services initiated their pandemic response policies, nurses’ opportunities to speak up were frequently thwarted. Conclusion: Accounts presented in this paper include nurses’ feeling a sense of futility or of suffering in silence in relation to speaking up. Nurses also fear the consequences of speaking up. Those who did speak up encountered a ‘deaf’ or hostile response, leaving nurses feeling disregarded by their organisation. This points to missed opportunities to learn from those on the frontline. Impact: Speaking up interventions need to focus on enhancing the skills to both speak up, and respond appropriately, particularly when power, hierarchy, fear and threat might be concerned. Patient or Public Contribution. Nurses working clinically during Covid-19 were involved in the development of this study. Participants were also involved in the development of our interview topic guide and comments obtained from the initial (anonymised survey) helped to shape the study design.

Jane Ball, Sydney Anstee, Keith Keith , JILL MABEN, Holly Blake, Janet E. Anderson, Daniel Kelly, Ruth Harris, ANNA CONOLLY, (2022)The impact of COVID-19 on nurses (ICON) survey: Nurses' accounts of what would have helped to improve their working lives, In: Journal of advanced nursing Wiley
Bodil Rasmussen, Sara Holton, Karen Wynter, David J Phillips, Jennifer L David, Mette Juel Rothmann, Mette Maria Skjoeth, Helle Wijk, Kirsten Frederiksen, Linda Ahlstrom, Janet Anderson, Ruth Harris, Anna Conolly, Bridie Kent, Jill Maben (2022)We're on mute! Exclusion of nurses' voices in national decisions and responses to COVID-19: An international perspective, In: Journal of Advanced Nursingpp. e87-e90 Wiley

Nurses are the largest healthcare workforce and have had direct, intense and sustained contact with COVID-19 patients throughout the pandemic playing an essential and frontline role in the COVID-19 response. Nurses have worked tirelessly and undertaken multiple roles during the pandemic including education, treatment, prevention, vaccination and research often in uncertain situations and to the detriment of their physical and mental health. They have also managed and cared for distressed patients and their families, and many have been redeployed to other roles often outside of their usual duties, all factors which have affected their well-being. They have publicly been lauded as ‘heroes’. Yet, their voices and perspectives are seldom heard or included in COVID-19 decision-making and in the development of interventions and responses at all levels from individual health services to national policymaking. Indeed, it has felt like these voices have been muted and excluded. Nurses' unique knowledge, expertise, needs and lived experiences are vital to the COVID-19 response. Without their inclusion, COVID-19 decision-making and initiatives are unlikely to be successful and patient outcomes poorer.

Jill Maben, Anna Conolly, Ruth Abrams, Emma Rowland, Ruth Harris, Danny Kelly, Bridie Kent, Keith Couper (2022)‘You can't walk through water without getting wet’ UK nurses’ distress and psychological health needs during the Covid-19 pandemic: A longitudinal interview study, In: International Journal of Nursing Studies104242 Elsevier

Background Pre-COVID-19 research highlighted the nursing profession worldwide as being at high risk from symptoms of burnout, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and suicide. The World Health Organization declared a pandemic on 11th March 2020 due to the sustained risk of further global spread of COVID-19. The high healthcare burden associated with COVID-19 has increased nurses’ trauma and workload, thereby exacerbating pressure on an already strained workforce and causing additional psychological distress for staff. Objectives The Impact of COVID-19 on Nurses (ICON) interview study examined the impacts of the pandemic on frontline nursing staff's psychosocial and emotional wellbeing. Design Longitudinal qualitative interview study. Settings Nurses who had completed time 1 and 2 of the ICON survey were sampled to include a range of UK work settings including acute, primary and community care and care homes. Interviewees were purposively sampled for maximum variation to cover a broad range of personal and professional factors, and experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic, including redeployment. Methods Nurses participated in qualitative in-depth narrative interviews after the first wave of COVID-19 in July 2020 (n=27) and again at the beginning of the second wave in December 2020 (n=25) via video and audio platform software. Rigorous qualitative narrative analysis was undertaken both cross-sectionally (within wave) and longitudinally (cross wave) to explore issues of consistency and change. Results The terms moral distress, compassion fatigue, burnout and PTSD describe the emotional states reported by the majority of interviewees leading many to consider leaving the profession. Causes of this identified included care delivery challenges; insufficient staff and training; PPE challenges and frustrations. Four themes were identified: (1) ‘Deathscapes’ and impoverished care (2) Systemic challenges and self-preservation (3) Emotional exhaustion and (4) (Un)helpful support. Conclusions Nurses have been deeply affected by what they have experienced and are forever altered with the impacts of COVID-19 persisting and deeply felt. There is an urgent need to tackle stigma to create a psychologically safe working environment and for a national COVID-19 nursing workforce recovery strategy to help restore nurse's well-being and demonstrate a valuing of the nursing workforce and therefore support retention.

ANNA CONOLLY, RUTH ABRAMS, Emma Rowland, Ruth Harris, Keith Couper, Danny Kelly, Bridie Kent, JILL MABEN (2022)‘What is the matter with me?’ or a ‘badge of honour’: Nurses’ constructions of resilience during Covid-19., In: Global qualitative nursing research. Sage

Abstract It has long been known that nursing work is challenging and has the potential for negative impacts. During the COVID-19 pandemic most nurses’ working landscapes altered dramatically and many faced unprecedented challenges. Resilience is a contested term that has been used with increasing prevalence in healthcare with health professionals encouraging a ‘tool-box’ of stress management techniques and resilience-building skills. Drawing on narrative interview data (n=27) from the Impact of Covid on Nurses (ICON) qualitative study we examine how nurses conceptualised resilience during COVID-19 and the impacts this had on their mental wellbeing. We argue here that it is paramount that nurses are not blamed for experiencing workplace stress when perceived not to be resilient ‘enough’, particularly when expressing what may be deemed to be normal and appropriate reactions given the extreme circumstances and context of the COVID-19 pandemic.  

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