Working in a danger zone: A qualitative study of Taiwanese nurses' work experiences in a negative pressure isolation ward

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Hospital nurses are frontline health care workers in controlling the spread of infectious diseases. It is not known if nurses working in negative pressure isolation wards (NPIWs) are better prepared than before to safely care for patients with common infectious diseases.


For this qualitative descriptive study, 10 nurses were interviewed in depth about their experiences caring for patients in an NPIW. Tape recordings were transcribed verbatim and analyzed by qualitative content analysis.


The following 5 themes were identified: (1) complexity of patient care, (2) dissatisfaction with the quantity and quality of protective equipment, (3) shortage of nursing staff, (4) continued worries about being infected, and (5) sensitivity to self-protection. Our participants' anxiety and uncertainty about being infected in the NPIW were increased by the complexity of patients' health problems and organizational factors. To protect themselves against infection before and during patient care, participants also developed sensitivity to, concepts about, and strategies to improve self-protection.


NPIW administrators should pay more attention to nurses' concerns about improving the NPIW working environment, supply good quality protective equipment, and provide appropriate psychologic support and ongoing education to ensure that nurses feel safe while working. This ongoing education should refresh and update nurses' knowledge about disease transmission, therefore decreasing unnecessary anxiety based on misunderstandings about becoming infected.

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