New Zealand nurses perceptions of caring for patients with influenza A (H1N1)

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This study aimed to explore the perceptions of the highly specialized nurses who provided extracorporeal membrane oxygenation therapy for the mostly young and critically ill patients during the 2009 H1N1 pandemic.


The 2009 influenza A (H1N1) virus caused a global pandemic and also affected New Zealand during that winter. Nine H1N1-infected adult patients with severe acute respiratory distress syndrome were admitted into an intensive care unit of a large urban hospital for rescue extracorporeal membrane oxygenation therapy.


The study used a two-phase mix methods study design.


Phase 1 of the study involved five nurses attending a focus group interview to collect their views of the challenges and issues of caring for these patients. The results of the focus group were used to formulate the phase 2 survey. In total, 25 eligible nurses were invited to complete an anonymous survey; 18 completed and returned surveys giving a 72% response rate.


The survey identified issues including the acuity and high mortality rate of those affected, nurses working in an isolated environment because of infection control requirements, limited support and being asked to work extra shifts.


Despite these challenges, the nurses felt positive about their experience of caring for the H1N1 patients, and felt the experience advanced their skills and improved job satisfaction.

Relevance to Clinical Practice:

For future pandemics, this study identified the need for all staff to have a basic understanding of extracorporeal membrane oxygenation; strengthen inter-professional collaboration and communication; provision for more support and recognition of these highly specialized nurses, along with providing regular pandemic updates and offering counselling services.

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