Document Type


Publication Date




Source Publication

Heart & Lung

Source ISSN


Original Item ID

DOI: 10.1016/j.hrtlng.2022.04.015



The COVID-19 pandemic has and will continue to have a tremendous influence on intensive care unit (ICU) nurses’ mental health.


The purpose of this study was to describe the impact of COVID-19 on nurse moral distress, burnout, and mental health.


Between October 2020 and January 2021 this descriptive study recruited a national sample of nurses who worked in the ICU during the COVID-19 pandemic through American Association of Critical Care Nurses newsletters and social media.


A total of 488 survey responses were received from critical care nurses working in the U.S. during the COVID pandemic. Over two thirds of respondents experienced a shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE). Nurse respondents reported moderate/high levels of moral distress and burnout. Symptoms of moderate to severe depression and anxiety were reported by 44.6% and 31.1% of respondents, respectively. Forty-seven percent of respondents were at risk for having posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Lack of perceived support from administration and shortage of PPE were associated with higher levels of burnout, moral distress, and PTSD symptoms.


Respondents had higher anxiety and depression than the general population and higher risk for having PTSD than recent veterans or patients after traumatic injury. High levels of reported burnout and moral distress increase the risk of nurses leaving ICU practice or the profession. This study offers important insights about the mental health of nurses during a global pandemic that can guide the development of customized interventions for ICU nurses related to this health care crisis.


Accepted version. Heart & Lung, Vol. 55 (September-October 2022): 127-133. DOI. © 2022 Elsevier. Used with permission.

Available for download on Wednesday, November 01, 2023

Included in

Psychology Commons