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Symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder in early career nurses during the COVID-19 pandemic: a longitudinal survey study

Brook, J. ORCID: 0000-0002-8867-0150, Duguid, B. & Miller, N. (2023). Symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder in early career nurses during the COVID-19 pandemic: a longitudinal survey study. Journal of Clinical Nursing, 32(23-24), pp. 8063-8077. doi: 10.1111/jocn.16879


To investigate the mental wellbeing of early career nurses working in the UK during the COVID-19 pandemic, with a particular emphasis on symptoms related to post-traumatic stress disorder.

A longitudinal survey study.

Data were acquired at three timepoints during the COVID-19 pandemic (between May 2020 and March 2021) to determine whether symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder persisted over time. Quantitative measures of wellbeing were supplemented with survey data on the nurses’ experiences of working during the pandemic.

27% of participants suffered from persistent symptoms of post-traumatic stress while working as nurses during the pandemic. The nurses’ baseline resilience, as well as their perception of the quality of their work environment, were significant negative predictors of symptoms of post-traumatic stress. Participants identified a range of strategies that would have helped them during the crisis, including visible, consistent and empathetic leadership, adequate training, and a supportive work environment.

The context of the pandemic has highlighted the vulnerability of the psychological wellbeing of early career nurses in the workforce. Immediate implementation of some of the more simple interventions suggested in this paper would provide early career nurses with rapid support. More complex support mechanisms should be given immediate consideration, with a view to implementation in the longer term.
Implications for the profession
This study contributes new knowledge about the psychological wellbeing of early career nurses working during the pandemic and suggests support mechanisms that will be crucial for the retention of these nurses in the profession. A measurement of resilience may be useful for determining the appropriate level of support to provide to early career nurses.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.© 2023 The Authors. Journal of Clinical Nursing published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.
Publisher Keywords: Nurses, Nursing Staff, Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic, PTSD, COVID-19, Leadership, Work Environment
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
R Medicine > RT Nursing
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences
SWORD Depositor:
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[thumbnail of PTSD in early career nurses JCN CRO version.pdf] Text - Accepted Version
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