Qualitative exploration of nurses' experiences of the COVID-19 pandemic using the Reconceptualized Uncertainty in Illness Theory: An interpretive descriptive study


Journal of Advanced Nursing, vol.78, no.7, pp.2111-2122, 2022 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 78 Issue: 7
  • Publication Date: 2022
  • Doi Number: 10.1111/jan.15153
  • Journal Name: Journal of Advanced Nursing
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI), Scopus, Academic Search Premier, Abstracts in Social Gerontology, AgeLine, CINAHL, Educational research abstracts (ERA), EMBASE, Gender Studies Database, MEDLINE, Psycinfo, Public Affairs Index
  • Page Numbers: pp.2111-2122
  • Keywords: COVID-19, nurse, qualitative study, Reconceptualized Uncertainty in Illness Theory
  • Akdeniz University Affiliated: Yes


© 2022 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.Aims: To explore nurses' personal, social and professional experiences in COVID-19 emergency departments and intensive care units based on the Reconceptualized Uncertainty in Illness Theory. Design: This study used an interpretive qualitative descriptive design. Methods: Open-ended interviews were conducted between August and November 2020 with 21 nurses using interview questions based on the Reconceptualized Uncertainty in Illness Theory. Data were analysed using steps informed by hermeneutic phenomenology and reported using Consolidated Criteria for Reporting Qualitative Research. Findings: Data were grouped under five categories with 10 themes based on the Reconceptualized Uncertainty in Illness Theory: ‘antecedents of uncertainty’, ‘appraisal of uncertainty’, ‘coping with uncertainty’, ‘probabilistic thinking’ and ‘formation of a new life perspective’. Nurses reported that they experienced uncertainty about being infected and infecting others with COVID-19 as well as caring for COVID-19 patients. Despite the uncertainties related to COVID-19, nurses were determined to focus on caring for COVID-19 patients by prioritizing their professional identity and responsibilities. They described feeling motivated by patients' positive feedback, which also increased their professional satisfaction. They realized that caring was therapeutic not only for their patients, but also for them. They experienced empowerment in the care team through active reuse of their prior knowledge and experience and expanded decision-making roles. They also emphasized that they perceived the COVID-19 pandemic as a unique experience for their individual and professional growth. Conclusion: Nurses experienced multiple sources of uncertainty during the COVID-19 pandemic. To manage uncertainty, they used strategies including focusing on patient care and satisfaction. Additionally, they made sense of their experience by acknowledging individual and professional growth. Impact: This study has a potential impact to support healthcare policymakers to meet the needs of nurses in possible future pandemics.