Vulnerability, loss, and coping experiences of health care workers and first responders during the covid-19 pandemic: a qualitative study Academic Article uri icon

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  • Introduction

    The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic substantially affects health care workers from multiple disciplines, including nurses, physicians, therapists, and first responders. The aims of this study were to 1) explore and describe the experiences of health care workers and first responders working with individuals with COVID-19 infection, and 2) identify the support and strategies that were helpful during their experience.


    A qualitative descriptive study was conducted via online video interviews of 29 health care workers and first responders who agreed to be contacted for an interview. Thematic analysis resulted in three themes and corresponding subthemes.


    The three overriding themes were 1) experiencing vulnerability, 2) suffering loss and grief, and 3) coping with vulnerability. A sense of vulnerability and high levels of stress were described and affected participants during their professional work as health care workers and first responders as well as their roles in their homes and communities.

    Discussion and conclusion

    The findings indicate the need for effective measures to assist health care workers and first responders to minimize the negative consequences of persistent and severe stress and vulnerability as they care for individuals with COVID-19 and their families.


  • Smeltzer, Suzanne C
  • Copel, Linda Carman
  • Bradley, Patricia K
  • Maldonado, Linda Tina
  • D. Byrne, Christine
  • Durning, Jennifer Dean
  • Havens, Donna Sullivan
  • Brom, Heather
  • Mensinger, Janell L
  • Yost, Jennifer

publication date

  • December 31, 2022