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Factors that contributed to burnout among intensive care nurses during the COVID-19 pandemic in Saudi Arabia: A constructivist grounded theory

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Original languageEnglish
Accepted/In press3 Nov 2022
Published8 Nov 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information: The authors would like to acknowledge the nurses on the front lines of the pandemic for their braveness and extraordinary commitment and thank them for their participation in this study. The corresponding author would like to thank Dr Andreas Xyrichis (research first supervisor) and Professor Louise Barriball (research second supervisor) for their support throughout the research process. Publisher Copyright: © 2022 Australian College of Critical Care Nurses Ltd

King's Authors


Background: Intensive care unit (ICU) nurses experience high levels of burnout during the COVID-19 pandemic due to multiple stressors. It has long been known that burnout is negatively associated with patient and staff outcomes. Understanding the triggers for intensive care nurses’ burnout during the pandemic can help to develop appropriate mitigation measures. Objective: The objective of this study was to examine intensive care nurses’ experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic in Saudi Arabia to develop insights into the factors that influenced burnout. Methods: The study was informed by a constructivist grounded theory design. The study was conducted in an adult ICU in a tertiary hospital in the Makkah province in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. All participants were registered nurses with at least 6 months’ experience in intensive care and experienced caring for COVID-19 patients. Findings: This paper reports on preliminary findings from interviews with 22 intensive care nurses. A core category ‘pandemic pervasiveness’ was identified from the interview data, which makes reference to the ever-present nature of the pandemic beyond the ICU context. Family, work, and the wider world context are the three groups of contextual factors that influenced nurses' experience and perception of burnout. Conclusion: Many issues identified from the findings in this study can be attributed to shortages in the intensive care nursing workforce. Thus, we join others in calling for healthcare organisations and policymakers to be creative in finding new ways to meet nurses' needs, motivate, and empower them to maintain and sustain the nursing workforce in highly demanding areas, such as ICUs. Nursing managers can play a crucial role in mitigating nurses’ burnout by identifying and tackling sources of stress that exist among their staff, specifically team conflict, workplace harassment, and discrimination.

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