September 6, 2023

Study: Impact of COVID-19 deaths on frontline clinicians

Editor's Note

In this study from the RAND Corporation, researchers examine how clinicians experienced their role as they cared for dying patients with COVID-19 and how these experiences impacted their lives as healthcare professionals.

A total of 23 clinicians (11 physicians and 12 nurses) in critical care and emergency department settings in two California healthcare systems were interviewed in the spring of 2022.

The interviews highlighted two primary themes:

  • End-of-life care challenges, which included feelings of guilt related to end-of-life decisions and explaining end-of-life care to family members.
  • The emotional challenges related to end-of-life care situations, including having to be the patients’ family at the end of life because families weren’t allowed in with them, having vivid memories of patients dying no matter what they did, and blocking out experiences that were difficult to deal with so they could keep working.

The study highlights the sustained and cumulative emotional challenges and burden physicians and nurses continue to experience more than 2 years after the start of the pandemic, the researchers say.


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