Surviving Covid-19 Diagnosis Among Registered Nurses: Reactions, Consequences, and Coping Mechanisms

Gladys Mbuthia, Doris Machaki, Sheila Shaibu, Rachel W. Kimani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: To mitigate the spread of Covid-19, nurses infected with the virus were required to isolate themselves from their families and community. Isolated patients were reported to have experienced mental distress, posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms, and suicide. Though studies have reported the psychological impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, less is known about the lived experiences of nurses who survived Covid-19 infection in sub-Saharan Africa. Methods: A descriptive phenomenological approach was used to study the lived experiences of registered nurses who survived Covid-19 disease. In-depth interviews were conducted among nurses diagnosed with Covid-19 from two hospitals in Kenya between March and May, 2021. Purposive and snowball sampling were used to recruit registered nurses. Data were analyzed using Giorgi's steps of analysis. Results: The study included ten nurses between 29 and 45 years of age. Nurses' experiences encompassed three themes: diagnosis reaction, consequences, and coping. Reactions to the diagnosis included fear, anxiety, and sadness. The consequence of the diagnosis and isolation was stigma, isolation, and loneliness. Nurses coping mechanisms included acceptance, creating routines, support, and spirituality. Conclusion: Our findings aid in understanding how nurses experienced Covid-19 infection as patients and will provide evidence-based content for supporting nurses in future pandemics. Moreover, as we acknowledge the heroic contribution of frontline healthcare workers during the Covid-19 pandemic, it is prudent to recognize the considerable occupational risk as they balance their duty to care, and the risk of infection to themselves and their families.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)467-475
Number of pages9
JournalSafety and Health at Work
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2023


  • Anxiety
  • Coping
  • Covid-19
  • Nurses
  • Occupational health


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