Introduction: The COVID-19 pandemic has fundamentally altered how society functions, including the conditions under which health professionals work. Nurses, who are at the forefront of providing care to COVID-19 patients, spend extended periods in close contact with infected patients. These stressful conditions may increase nurses' risk of developing depression and other mental health problems. This study aimed to explore the experiences of Indonesian nurses working in two COVID-19-designated hospitals that provide direct patient care.
Methods: The qualitative phenomenological design was used in this study. Between June and December 2020, 15 nurses at two COVID-19-designated hospitals participated in in-depth telephone interviews, and four nurses were selected to participate in a focus group discussion for data triangulation. Following that, data were analyzed according to Colizzi's phenomenological method.
Results: The data were categorized into four themes: 1) Responsibility to maintain nursing professionalism; 2) Challenges in caring for COVID-19 patients; 3) Support in caring for COVID-19 patients; 4) Increase insights while caring for COVID-19 patients. These themes indicate that, while nurses felt supported by hospital administration and close family members, they were also affected by the high workload, which resulted in behavioral changes associated with mental illness.
Conclusion: These findings shed light on the benefits and drawbacks of nurses caring for COVID-19 patients. These findings can serve as a starting point for hospital administration in developing policies and systems that promote nursing staff well-being.