“Everything Is Changing, but I Am Not Alone”: Nurses’ Perceptions of Social Support during COVID-19

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COVID-19 has created numerous stressors for nurses, which have impacted their work, self-efficacy, and wellness. Social support helps manage stress and burnout. Through 24 semi-structured interviews, the current article explores the perspectives of nurses who worked with COVID-19 patients in the initial days of the pandemic in the United States. This study unpacks the types and sources of social support nurses sought during this time, especially as they faced significant burnout. Through thematic analysis, the current study found that these nurses interacted with the crisis situation to evaluate their social support needs and the plausibility of fulfilling these needs. They focused on the support that was available or at least perceived to be available and let go of certain needs that could not plausibly be addressed in that moment. Peer-to-peer support was critical during this process, and nurses avoided sharing concerns with their families as they enacted protective buffering. The findings also highlight the complex and dynamic nature of social support as nurses interact with their peers and evaluate the support they receive. Peers helped with haptic support like providing hugs to coworkers, and at times even became surrogates for coworkers’ family members as they participated in communal coping. Organizational support was critical for sharing information centrally with nurses and for organizational sustainability.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number3262
JournalSustainability (Switzerland)
Issue number6
StatePublished - Mar 1 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Computer Science (miscellaneous)
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Building and Construction
  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Hardware and Architecture
  • Computer Networks and Communications
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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