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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,


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 the peer reviewed version of an article that will be published in final form at This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Use of Self-Archived Versions. This article may not be enhanced, enriched or otherwise transformed into a derivative work, without express permission from Wiley or by statutory rights under applicable legislation. Copyright notices must not be removed, obscured or modified. The article must be linked to Wiley’s version of record on Wiley Online Library and any embedding, framing or otherwise making available the article or pages thereof by third parties from platforms, services and websites other than Wiley Online Library must be prohibited.
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
[thumbnail of PTSD in early career nurses JCN CRO version.pdf] Text - Accepted Version
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